Waqa: The Night I Crashed Back To Earth

Melbourne - Sisa WaqaBy STEVE MASCORD

MELBOURNE Storm winger Sisa Waqa has spoken for the first time about the sickening mid-air collision which saw him carried from ANZ Stadium on a medicab and wearing a neck brace on the opening night of the NRL finals.

The Fijian international landed on his head and neck after coming into contact with Dylan Farrell in the 20-10 defeat to South Sydney yet will play this Saturday night in the second preliminary semi-final against Newcastle at AAMI Park.

“When I went down, the first thing I tried to do was move my hands and move my feet – before the doctor even got to me,” the 27-year-old told Fairfax Media.

“Once I could do that, I knew I hadn’t hurt anything major.

“I went straight to the hospital and they did some x-rays and some MRIs and they found out I had no structural damage.

“After that, I came back to Melbourne with the doctor. I was stiff for a few days and they had to do some more tests to make sure I hadn’t hurt any discs.

“But I’m definitely back in this week. I feel completely normal now, thankfully. It’s an honour to be playing for this club in such a big game.”

Ex-Rooster Waqa will be making his 50th NRL appearance opposite fellow Fijian flier Akuila Uate in a match the Storm must win to keep alive their premiership defence.

Speaking to journalists at training, captain Cameron Smith denied uncertainty over his own future beyond next year was distracting the team.

“I’ve made it fairly clear and the club’s made it fairly clear that there’ve been no contract negotiations at all,” hooker Smith said.

“My focus is on playing out the season with Melbourne as best I can.

“I’ve got 12 more months down here. I don’t understand why there’s such a rush. There’s talk that other clubs, or one in particular, having this huge offer and all these other circumstances but for me … there’s no rush.”

Smith said Brett Finch, named as 18th man, was still some chance of supplanting Gareth Widdop in the Storm’s starting side.

“Everyone knew Gaz wasn’t going to be at his best last week,” he said of Widdop, who made his return on Friday from a dislocated hip.

“He’d been out 14 weeks. I think he had 60 minutes in reserve grade and we were up against the most consistent footy side in the competition.

“He’s better for the run.

“It would be great to have them both on the field … if we win, there’s still an opportunity to be back in the team in future weeks.”

Smith was asked about North Queensland’s suggestions of a Sydney conspiracy to secure a Sydney Roosters-South Sydney decider.

“I think it would be a great story for the game if the Rabbitohs were involved and the Roosters were involved,” he said. “They’re two great clubs who’ve been around for a long, long time.

“I think you’re alluding to what Johnathan Thurston was talking about. I think at the time, he was running on raw emotion. You can understand where the bloke’s coming from.

“Johnno, he’s a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve.”

Filed for: THE AGE

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