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O'Donnell proud to be back to best

By Todd Balym 27/05/2009 10:34:36 PM Comments (0)

Luke O'Donnell felt the snap, then a sharp burning pain, followed by the sensation of blood flooding to his ruptured hamstring.

His left leg instantly swelled and he felt sick to the stomach.

The Test lock had just been the victim of an infamous wishbone tackle from Wests Tigers players in round four in 2007 that ripped his hamstring from the bone.

Forget about playing football again, O'Donnell was just a few centimetres from never walking again.

"I feared I'd never play again," said O'Donnell.

"It was very painful, but nothing like any other pain I've felt.

"It was a really intense burning feeling and it was hard to pinpoint where it was coming from.

"I felt things snap up near my pelvis or top of my hamstring but after a few seconds I was on the ground.

"I remember holding my leg and I could feel all the blood pumping to the area and my leg just instantly swelling up in my hands.

"It was a pretty weird feeling, sickening.

"No-one really knew how I was going to come back with all the nerve damage.

"I wasn't able to bend my leg for the first six weeks ... there was a lot of muscle wastage.

"There was definitely some real hard times there, just starting to learn how to walk and jog again was daunting.

"In the early stages there was definitely some pretty serious questions being asked if I would ever get back to how I was before.

"As positive as you tell yourself to be you definitely have a few negative thoughts creeping in and you ask yourself if you will be able to get back.

"I just put in the extra hard work and hoped the operation went to plan and it did."

O'Donnell missed the rest of the season but returned in 2008 only to blow his Origin chances with a seven-game suspension for striking and abusing a touch judge.

However he has returned with a vengeance in 2009, leading North Queensland's revival and pushing Test forwards Anthony Watmough and Anthony Laffranchi out of the NSW team to claim a starting position in the backrow.

With 11 Tests and two Origins under his belt prior to the wishbone tackle, O'Donnell says this Blues jersey is the sweetest of all.

"It's almost more satisfying than when I did make my debut," he said.

"I had a good standing and I was happy with where I was in the game and improving all the time and all the hard work I'd done in years previous was paying off for me and it sent me all the way back to square one so to speak and it was like starting from scratch again.

"Getting back into this sort of footy is a big achievement for me and I'm proud of what I've gone through and come out the other end."

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