Queensland Origin rookie Aidan Guerra endured some of his toughest times in football before he even made it to the NRL.
Queensland rookie Aidan Guerra’s football career was over almost before it started.
Recognised as a potential future star, Guerra joined Melbourne’s under-20s squad as talented if not quite hardworking teenager.
His ability impressed first-grade coach Craig Bellamy, but after suffering a shocking ankle injury in the lower-grade competition the hard-running Sydney Roosters back-rower, who plays his second game for the Maroons in State of Origin II on Wednesday, was told at one stage he might never play again.
That was before he had even made it to the NRL.
Guerra had played on with the injury that was finally diagnosed as a fractured ankle and then had to have the ankle re-broken in order for it to heal properly.
Dark times indeed for the 26-year-old premiership winner and an indication of how far he has come.
His former Storm teammate Steve Turner remembers a promising young player trying to make it through.
“You always knew what a good player he was and that one day he would make it to where he was, but they were really tough times for him back then,” Turner said.
“He was a young bloke and just finding his way and you can imagine how tough some of those setbacks were.
“Aidan was often struggling with injuries and I guess at one stage he even he wondered if it was worth it.
“It’s great to see where he is now after what he went through.”
After Guerra agreed to move to the Roosters ahead of the 2010 season, when he finally made his NRL debut, Bellamy was reportedly so incensed that he dumped him from the club’s first-grade squad.
The Italian representative spent the rest of the season playing Queensland Cup before moving to Sydney’s eastern suburbs.
Guerra’s manager Jim Banaghan said his tough rise through the ranks has prepared him for the demands of the Origin arena.
“He was just a young bloke coming through the grades, a young bloke just learning about things, and he had to deal with some really bad injuries,” Banaghan said.
“He was a kid with a lot of talent and he was a kid with a lot of growing up to do.
“I’m sure he learned a lot about himself and the game in those tough times and he deserves the success he has had.”