Doc reveals inside story of Cronk’s GF miracle
THE Sydney Roosters doctor has revealed Cooper Cronk played the grand final with a staggering 15cm break in his scapula - an injury consistent with a car-crash victim.
Roosters medico Ameer Ibrahim has given an extraordinary account of the pain Cronk endured to inspire Sydney's 21-6 premiership defeat of Melbourne at ANZ Stadium.
Dr Ibrahim says Cronk's effort is the greatest display of toughness he has seen in Australian sport in his 20 years as a sports medico.
Such was Cronk's level of pain, he was given two shots of local anaesthetic before kick-off and again at half-time, when Roosters trainers cut his jersey off and injected into sites on his shoulder marked with black ink.
Cronk was given almost the maximum dosage of pain-numbing anaesthetic. Any more could have triggered heart problems.
"It was the most heroic thing I've seen in 20 years - never seen anything like it," Ibrahim said as Cronk stood metres away in the Roosters dressing room using his jersey as a sling.
"He would have been in 11 out of 10 pain coming here to the game.
"That fracture is what you see with motorbike accidents and car accidents. 11 out of 10 pain.
"It (the break) was the width of his scapula - the entire width, which would have been 15cm.
"I've never seen it done. Everyone I spoke to (in the medical fraternity) hadn't done it.
"We broke it down to first principles. What's the worse that can happen and move backwards from there. Could we get rid of pain? Could we improve function?
"We could. After that it was okay. I knew he wasn't going to do any more damage. It's a broken bone but it's not a weight-bearing bone.
"The other thing to note is that it was the maximum dose we could give him. Anything more and it starts playing with your heart. If you give someone too much local anaesthetic their heart goes into a funny rhythm.
"We gave him 20ml before the match and 15ml at half time. The maximum we could give him was 45ml."
Ibrahim then explained the remarkable build-up and medical research to get Cronk on to ANZ Stadium.
It involved phone calls, trips across Sydney to medical practices, tackling sessions in doctors' rooms, ultrasound machines, four injections and game-day gambles.
Ibrahim initially gave Cronk no hope, but when he contacted another medico, Craig Harris, for assistance, the footballing miracle took shape.
"In the back of my mind I'm saying 'he's no chance'. 'He's no chance'," Ibrahim said.
"I spoke to about four or five different shoulder specialists - orthopaedic surgeons - to see if there was anything we could do.
"Can we operate and get him back in a week? Nah, we couldn't do that. They said the only thing you can do is 'he can't play'. It's unstable … he can't play.
"As the week went on it was almost like we were humouring him a bit going through the motions but come Friday - it was just really fortunate I called this bloke (Dr Harris) - he literally went from no chance to 'I'm playing'.
"On Wednesday we did a trial injection to see what would happen, a local anaesthetic. He got some relief from it but not enough.
"Then I rang a (medical) friend of mine and he said I think you can do it with an ultrasound. Let's do a test injection.
"On Friday we went out to Castle Hill and did a test injection.
"With the ultrasound, you can see where everything is. He gave a big dose and within 15 minutes Cooper was able to move his arm, the physio was tackling him to the ground. He was passing.
"He'd gone from 'I'm going to chuck the towel in' to 'I'm half a chance' after that injection.
"The doc said 'I can do it (the injection) on game day if you want'. I said done. Then it was up to the coach and the player to see if they wanted to take the risk on the injection and see if it would wear out.
"The radiologist came here (to ANZ Stadium on game day) at 5pm. He brought his ultrasound machine with him. He injected it as we did on Friday before the match and then topped him up at half-time.
"We cut Cooper's jersey off at half-time. We didn't want to waste any time. He'd already marked the area he was going to inject with a permanent marker. The second time around was a lot quicker to inject.
"I've never seen anything like it … all the stars aligned."