At this time of year, the thoughts of every athlete, coach and fan is almost purely on finals.
No matter what code you play, late August and September is all about the pursuit of grand final glory.
But in two occasions across the west on the weekend, scores and results were the furthest thing from people’s minds.
During Saturday’s Blowes Clothing Cup rugby union matches at Bathurst’s Ashwood Park, Dubbo Kangaroos third grader Will Coy suffered a neck injury which brought a halt to the preliminary final clash with Bulldogs.
Then during Sunday’s Group 11 rugby league qualifying semi-finals, there were real fears for the welfare of Parkes Spacemen youngster Will Press when he remained prone on the turf at Wellington after stating he heard a ‘crack’ noise in his neck when attempting a tackle.
The third grade rugby union game on Saturday was transferred to another field while every precaution was taken keeping Coy still, while Sunday’s under 18s fixture was stopped for roughly 45 minutes while Press reportedly complained of a tingling sensation in his legs.
Both incidents rattled every one at the respective grounds, especially Coy and Press’ teammates and coaches.
However, there was positive news for both.
Coy was released from hospital in Bathurst on Saturday night while at Dubbo Base Hospital on Monday afternoon it was confirmed Press had no spinal damage from his incident.
“It was gut-wrenching,” Parkes under 18s coach Luke Clarke said of the incident.
Dubbo Kangaroos president Graeme Board confirmed on Monday Coy had recovered from his incident.
While Coy is out of hospital, Press will see further specialists before he is released and begins his recovery.
While there was no spinal damage, Press has suffered a fracture to his C5 vertebrae.
That may sound alarming, however, the scans were considered to be positive and the message given was “no major medical intervention is anticipated”.
Clarke was by Press’ side on Monday afternoon, delighted with the news, and said his side will ‘rip in’ for the young back-rower this coming weekend in the minor semi-final clash with Dubbo CYMS.
Wellington led Parkes 18-16 at the time of Press injury, and while the Spacemen scored almost immediately after the eventual restart it was the Cowboys who went on to score a gripping 24-22 victory.
Wellington had played the bulk of the match with 12 men after Daniel Stanley was sent off in the first half for striking, while two other Cowboys also spent time in the sin bin at different times.
After seeing his side score a gutsy win and advance to a major semi-final date with Forbes, Wellington coach Ben Bruce still took time to wish Press nothing but the best.
“We don’t want to see injuries, especially neck injuries,” Bruce said post-game.
“It’s not a good thing and you wouldn’t wish that upon anyone.”