Jayden Brailey’s long road back from horror injury

Newcastle star Jayden Brailey has opened up on the injury that derailed his return to footy this year, penning an article in Athletes Voice about his horror Achilles tear in the Knights’ preseason training.

Brailey has only recently got back on the field after six months out, making a successful return to action against the Rabbitohs in July and playing every game since.

“I’d heard in the past that when people do their Achilles, they look around thinking someone has kicked them and that’s exactly what happened with me,” he wrote in Athletes Voice.

“It was a pretty tough pill to swallow. We were doing a conditioning game at training. I went to take off to chase the footy and there was no one within 20 metres, but I dropped straight to the ground like a sniper had hit me.

“I heard it go and looked behind me thinking what was going on and then I realised what it was and I was like, ‘oh no, you’re kidding.’

“People who were back in the sheds 30 or 40 metres away reckon they heard it go. I know the test where you can feel it, so I pretty much knew before the physio confirmed it.”

It is not the first time that the young hooker had his season all-but ended before it had started. In 2020, he tore an ACL in just the second game of the year, and ironically, the last game before the season was postponed due to the Covid pandemic.

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“Sometimes you do all the right things but the unexpected pops up when you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he wrote.

“You learn pretty quickly how important it is to put your health first – because you never know what could happen.

“I missed the rest of the year and that was pretty tough, mentally and physically. I’d never been in that position before, so I had to learn how to cope with it all. It wasn’t fair.

“The rehab was a lengthy process. The whole competition was called off a few days later. I remember thinking ‘why couldn’t it have been called off a week earlier and I wouldn’t be in this position?’

“I was hoping at one stage they’d call the whole year off so I wouldn’t miss any footy but I’m glad they got back up and running in the end after only a couple of months. 

“The reality of the sport is you just don’t know what’s around the corner. It was a tough year with the isolation and the rehab, a very weird time. 

I had a lot of time up my sleeve because I was never going to come back that year, so I made the most of it, building up all the muscles around the knee.”

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