Italy five-eighth Terry Campese has revealed he ignored the pain of calf and ankle injuries to play 60 minutes of Friday night’s Rugby League World Cup match against Fiji at Canberra because it was his last chance to represent his family heritage.
Having torn his calf in the lead up to Italy’s opening match against Ireland, Campese re-tore the calf the day before the Azzuri’s second clash.
Although Campese’s injury would normally take at least three weeks to recover from, the former Canberra Raiders captain did all he could to ensure he would get to play at Canberra Stadium in front of his friends and family.
“It’s a six day turn around because I did it in last week’s captain’s run so to come out and play, it’s almost impossible,” Campese said. “Playing in the World Cup for your heritage country and seeing all your friends and family out there, you just don’t want to let them down.”
“I went out busted but I still think I did them proud.”
Having battled his way on to the playing surface at Canberra Stadium, Campese was dealt another a blow when he injured his ankle in the first minute.
Despite his injuries accruing, Campese managed to stay on the field for 60 minutes to represent the country of his grandparents’ birth.
During his time on the field, the playmaker controlled Italy’s attack with aplomb according to his coach Cameron Ciraldo.
“He was under a bit of duress but he managed the game really well,” Ciraldo said. “He did really well to guide us around and we really missed him for those first two games.
“It was good for him to get out here today and play in his home ground, he did himself really proud.”
Although the five-eighth had already represented Australia at the 2008 World Cup, Campese believes pulling on the Azzuri jumper tonight meant more to him.
“I was young then, I didn’t really appreciate what I had,” Campese said. “I think now that I’m not a professional athlete and I have to work Monday to Friday, I appreciate what I had a lot more.
“It probably meant more to me to get out there today and say thanks.”
In Italy’s 38-10 loss to Fiji, Campese set up one try while Gungahlin Bulls junior Paul Vaughan ran for 99 meters and made 22 tackles.
Australia’s Josh Dugan and Lebanon’s Travis Robinson were both missing as the Kangaroos recorded a comprehensive win.
Jordan Rapana scored a try and ran for 128 meters as New Zealand suffered a loss to Tonga as they finished second in Group B.
America’s Matt Walsh was once again absent as Papua New Guinea recorded a 64-0 win.
Dugan and Rapana remain as the only two CRRL representatives left in the World Cup. Australia prepare to take on Samoa, while New Zealand tackle Fiji in the quarterfinals.