Warriors forward, Mitch Barnett, made a triumphant return to the field in Saturday night’s victory over the Dolphins after fearing he may have had to retire early following a serious neck injury in Round 3. Barnett, 29, was hospitalised after the injury which occurred against the Cowboys in March, with his recovery complicated further due to previous fusion surgery on his neck in 2020.
Barnett opened up about his fears surrounding the injury, stating that “each scan was telling me something different and it was a bit of a process.” The forward revealed that he “didn’t really know what I was doing for about 4-5 weeks, everything was on the table, and everything was up in the air” causing him to be concerned about the possibility of being forced into early retirement.
Reflecting on his concerns, Barnett stated, “But that’s everything with your neck. I have had one fusion already, you can’t have two to two separate vertebrae, otherwise you are forced into retirement. You only get one opportunity with your neck.”
Despite Barnett’s worries, the forward was grateful to be able to return to the game, stating, “But I’m very fortunate that I can still play and I am back. My neck is fine, just a bit of pain management for now until I get back into the grind of things.”
Barnett’s performance was impressive despite his return, playing 50 minutes off the bench in the 30-8 victory over the Dolphins in Auckland, carrying the ball 15 times for 147 metres and adding some much-needed experience to a bench missing Jazz Tevaga and Dylan Walker.
The Warriors were buoyed by Barnett’s return as they currently find themselves in a crucial point of their season. It was important for the team to secure the win and Barnett’s presence on the field undoubtedly helped contribute to the team’s success.