Finding the underlying issue in Tom Trbojevic’s troublesome hamstrings might be all that stops Manly from mounting a premiership charge.
Tom Trbojevic’s hopes of leading Manly to a premiership charge could rest on him learning to run again.
The Sea Eagles’ talismanic custodian is once again sidelined with a strain to his left hamstring, the third time in the past 18 months he’s gone down with the same injury.
Leading physiotherapist Brien Seeney said the Sea Eagles would be working to identify whether there was a deeper issue given all three of Trbojevic’s strains have happened when he’s made the same motion — namely, stepping off his left foot.
“Because he’s done it the same way each time, and it’s almost a mirror image of each other each time you start to look at the way he’s performing that left foot step,” Seeney said.
“Does he need to not throw his left foot so far out to the side, which changes his centre of gravity and base of support? Does he need to make sure the left foot stays closer? Does he need to make sure he doesn’t lean so far forward when he performs that left foot step?
“These are the little things, little biomechanical things they’ll run through to see if they can do something to take the pressure off that hamstring when he performs that left foot step.
“Overall, it’s definitely a very uncommon way of injuring your hamstring.
“He’s changing direction — now that starts to bring in other muscle groups. It’s not a movement you would associate with hamstring injuries typically.”
A fit and firing Trbojevic is the key to the Sea Eagles mounting a challenge for the NRL premiership.
For all Manly’s heart and toughness, the NSW and Test star is the player who takes them from being competitive with the best sides in the competition to true premiership contention.
Manly will leave no stone unturned in an effort to get him back on the field, and will err on the side of caution when it comes to how soon he returns.
Previously, it was thought Trbojevic’s hamstrings were susceptible due to his left leg being a centimetre longer than his right. He began wearing boots with orthotics, which may have helped some, but the repeated injuries since indicate something else to be at fault.
Trbojevic underwent the Nordbord hamstring test just before his latest injury and tested well, indicating the issue is not with the hamstrings themselves but with other muscle groups around them.
“The fact he tested so well, with that strength, so close to the injury, and especially considering the uncommon way in which is occurred it starts to bring in other considerations,” Seeney said.
“You would start to look at areas around the hamstring, which might not be functioning the way they should be and putting increased load on the hamstring.
“The big areas, especially with changes of direction, you’re looking at the hip and the core — or the trunk.
“I’m sure Manly are dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s with going through all that. Is there a weakness? Is there something that’s not quite functioning as it should be?
“During that stepping movement you need support from your trunk and your hips to make sure you’re not placing adverse pressures on the hamstring.”
The good news for Manly fans isn’t just that the Sea Eagles are exploring every avenue to put Trbojevic’s hamstring troubles in their rearview mirror, but there are plenty of examples of formerly injury prone players finding the answer and becoming far more durable.
Trbojevic need only look to James Tedesco at the Roosters for inspiration – after a litany of knee injuries destroyed the early years of Tedesco’s career he changed his running style to put less pressure on his joints and wore boots with less grip.