Men of League visit Justin Smith
This story is about a 17 year old man by the name of Justin Smith. Justin showed a level of courage and determination beyond his years as he fought to overcome serious leg problems, a problem which has plagued him since we was 14 years old, and put his dreams of playing Rugby League on hold.
Justin started playing Rugby League as a six year old with the Pennant Hills Cherrybrook Stags Junior Rugby League Football Club, where his father Tony coached. He was developing as a promising second rower and centre over 10 years he was selected into the North Sydney Bears Development Squads for under 13’s, 14’s and 15’s.
In 2010-11 he was selected in the NSW Combined Independent Schools under 15’s representative teams, which played the Australian Schoolboys Rugby League Championships in Canberra and Perth.
For some time Justin had been experiencing high levels of discomfort and pain in both legs, including tightness in his calves and tingling and numbness in both feet. Whilst he was in Perth at the 2011 Australian Schoolboys Championships, the team trainer observed Justin’s symptoms and suggested his problem could potentially be Chronic Compartment Syndrome, which affects lower legs and calf muscles. Subsequent expert examinations and surgery revealed the presence of not only Chronic Compartment Syndrome but also Politeal Artery Entrapment Syndrome, which restricted the flow of blood down both legs.
During September 2011 and June 2012, Justin was admitted to hospital on five occasions for eight separate operations to overcome the problems and additional complications after surgery. For the last nine months he has been receiving excellent ongoing exercise program advice and he has started to wear a new type of sports shoe, described as a cross between a sports shoe and a football boot.
On 2 June 2013, Northern Sydney Men of League Welfare Officers Fred Jackson and Ken Vessey had the pleasure of meeting Justin and his proud dad, Tony. Justin was no longer experiencing any leg pains and had played a few games of Oztag as well as completing light running and gym exercises.
Justin’s clear goal remains to return to the game of Rugby League in 2014 and to gain selection in the North Sydney Bears S.G.Ball representative team.
Justin is keen supporter and season ticket holder of the Sydney Roosters and through the generosity of the Sydney Roosters Club Management we were able to acquire a signed 2013 Sydney Roosters Jersey for Justin.
Justin and Tony were most thankful of the generosity of the Sydney Roosters and thanked the Men of League Foundation for making it all possible and wished the Foundation continued success in the future.
We wish Justin all the very best in his studies and will watch his Rugby League future with great interest.
By Ken Vessey
Men of League Northern Sydney Division