Ben Ross given career lifeline at Souths - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Ben Ross given career lifeline at Souths

10/08/2009 06:26:28 PM Comments (0)

Five months after being told he'll never play rugby league again, Ben Ross has been handed a career lifeline and opportunity to rekindle a premiership winning partnership at South Sydney.

The injured Cronulla prop signed a one-year contract for 2010 with the Rabbitohs on Monday, the first step in a remarkable comeback story after a horrific neck injury in round one of the NRL season.

Ross was crunched in a gang tackle against Penrith on March 14 and rushed to hospital where he was later told his season, and possibly career, was over.

But the 29-year-old former Queensland State of Origin prop never gave up hope and that faith has been rewarded with a chance to resume playing for the Rabbitohs next year.

Ross has received a medical clearance from his own doctors, but will still need an independent examination by South Sydney's medical staff to be cleared to play in 2010.

South Sydney chief executive Shane Richardson believes Ross will not only play next year, but can reclaim the form that made him one of the game's highest paid front rowers.

"We hope to get him up to that 112kg again and make him that sort of prop we want in first grade," said Richardson.

It's not the first time Richardson has taken a punt on Ross.

Seven years ago when Richardson was CEO at Penrith, he and coach John Lang lured Ross from St George Illawarra to the foot of the mountains and the Panthers won the premiership.

Lang, who now oversees the South Sydney football department, and Richardson both spoke with Ross at length about his comeback from the serious injury and are confident the 29-year-old does not harbour any mental scars from his lucky escape.

"If he had (any doubts) we wouldn't be signing him," said Richardson.

"Langy had long discussions with him and so did I and we felt pretty confident that providing we get the final medical clearance from our people he will do a good job for us next year.

"He is a great guy, he does a lot of work off the field which will fit in with our Souths Cares program, but most importantly he is a State of Origin front rower. He is only 29 and I think he will be great for our young pack next year."

Ross has taken a massive pay cut to join Souths, coming off a reported $400,000-a-year deal at the Sharks.

Richardson said it is for that reason, and not the potential gamble in playing again, that the South Sydney deal is for only one season.

"He has come off large contracts and from his point of view he wants to showcase himself and I'm sure he will enjoy the club and want to stay," said Richardson.

"From our point of view we will get the chance to look at him under match conditions and we get to make a decision too.

"It's a win win for both people."

Ross will have a massive battle to play first grade next year as the Rabbitohs have signed Brisbane young gun Dave Taylor until 2012.

Skipper Roy Asotasi (signed until 2013), veteran Luke Stuart (2011) and Scott Geddes (2010) are first-grade front-rowers already on their books, plus hulking backrower Michael Crocker (2012).

And Richardson says there is at least another recruit still to come.

"We've got another one to come. We haven't finished yet, we're looking very solid," he said.

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