Campbell Graham begins to nervously await his battle with the Cronulla Sharks as he is aware he will be facing pain killing injections. Each nerve-wrecking injection before the game and at half-time are aimed at numbing the agonising sternum pain he contracted in a game against Cronulla during the first round.
In Perth on Saturday night, Graham will find himself once more donning the colours of South Sydney, facing off against the Sharks, as anticipations buzz about what their face-off will bring. In the tumultuous first three months of the season, Graham’s pain tolerance was put to the test, having been struck hard against Parramatta which caused him to take a forced break.
The spotlight may be fixated on Latrell Mitchell and the mysteries of what he has to offer at Optus Stadium. However, Graham’s story of resilience deserves attention as he is set to perform at the right centre, hoping to escape another painful blow.
The rare severity of Graham’s sternum injury has bewildered South Sydney’s medical team. The injury has compelled him to wear a sternum guard for his own safety. While surgery may be a possible end-of-season solution, a three-month rest is indisputably the best course of action for a full recovery.
“I sustained my injury during round one. I can’t recall the exact moment, just the aftermath,” Graham confessed to this publication. “The most distressing phase was over the Origin period. I get injected twice—before the match and at the break.”
Deciding on whether to undergo surgery by the end of the season or not is a weighty concern. “Regardless of the constant pain, my focus remains on my performance on the field,” Graham explained.
Eddie Farah, Souths’ physio shares Graham’s optimism. His condition has improved significantly since taking a short break as he progressively resumes his training. A floating chip fragment was detected in one of the sternum joints after multiple scans.
“Most matches go by without complications, but occasionally he takes a hit that rocks him,” Farah elaborated. “He was noticeably uneasy after one encounter with the Tigers last Friday, but regained his balance shortly after.”
Over time, Graham’s condition has improved considerably. He was embattled during rounds 12 to 16 around the Origin period. Post a month-long break, and after our bye, he’s shown much significant improvement.
The ideal remedy for his injury at the moment is ample rest. A period of three to six months should allow it to subside substantially. “Even if he may limit contact through January or even February, he’ll get the luxury of an extended break over the off-season,” said Farah.
Graham, whose contract with Souths has been extended until 2027, is hopeful about the return of Mitchell and the Origin team including Damien Cook, Cameron Murray, and Cody Walker. The reunion with his right-edge back-rower, Keaon Koloamatangi, gives the Redfern squad a comfortable head start leading into the NRL finals.