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Rory Kostjasyn: 'My inner thoughts are still in my old voice'

It's a voice he doesn't recognise. Well, kind of. As time passes, Rory Kostjasyn is getting used to the raspy tone.

"My inner thoughts are still in my old voice," Kostjasyn told the Our Town Our Team podcast.

"But they're starting to come back into this now."

Having moved from North Queensland to join the nib Newcastle Knights on a two-yea-deal, it was the first training run back after the Christmas break where the utility copped a whack to the throat.

It was a freak accident in the final 10 minutes of training.

With his airways swelling and closing, Kostjasyn was rushed to hospital.

He had no idea at the time but it was the end of his career.


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"They had to operate on it," he explained.

"I was just really unlucky that where it fractured, it dislocated a part of my vocal chords that moves in and out. It's function is to move in and out to make sound. I dislocated that, and it's lost its function.

"It doesn't move out anymore. It was stuck in my throat, so I couldn't breathe very good at all. I pretty much had no voice. I couldn't play on with the block in my airway because I couldn't breathe and they can't pull it all the way out so the airway is fully open because then I have no voice."


While the surgery allowed him to still speak, his ability to get enough oxygen in his lungs was compromised.

"My sentences are a lot different. Because when it first happened I thought I had more air to get my sentences out," he explained.

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"I'd find the last word of my sentence, I'd go to say but no air was there to push it out. So, I'd drop a word off the end of my sentence. Which sometimes I'll still do when I push too hard to get a point across.

"You learn. You adapt to your situation."

Kostjasyn never got to play a game for the Knights because of the injury.

It forced him into early retirement.

Joining the team in 2017 as one of their big-name signings, he quickly found himself make the jump to coaching in what has been a whirlwind 12 months.

"I don't know how to sum it up – not ideal," he said.

"I'd rather be playing than coaching still. Not even playing at a first-grade level, just playing the game because I actually enjoyed it.

"That's something I've been able to reflect on since I haven't been able to play since 2016 now. You realise when you're playing week in week out at a first-grade level as a job, because it's so serious, you forget that footy as a game, it was actually really fun.

"I like everything about it. I liked the physicality of it and the comradery you get by going out and facing a challenge with a team of other blokes who want the result as much as you do. You can't replace it at any level.

"The love of that. You don't replace that, and I can't do that anymore."

While he couldn't play last year, that didn't keep him away for the team.

He was part of the team and wanted to help out in any way possible.

"I treated it kind of like any other season ending injury," he explained.

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"Although it ended my career, I thought while I'm here, I'll keep helping out as much as I can. I think that helped me transition and stopped me from sitting home and sulking."

It was while assisting Nathan Brown that he made the move into coaching.

He and Scott Dureau assumed control of the Club's elite pathways program before Kostjasyn took over the reserve grade side when Simon Woolford accepted the job as coach of Huddersfield Giants earlier this year.

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"I'd heard Germ was moving on and they needed someone to fill that role," Kostjasyn said of his appointment.

"I wasn't thinking too much about it because we were still wrapping up our junior rep program.

"Moons (football manager Darren Mooney) called me in his office and said 'we've gone through the possible replacements and we'd like you to do it' so I had a little think about it and said I'll do it if 'biscuit' Scott Dureau can help me.

"... he was keen to do it. Both of us are really keen to learn and progress as coaches.

"It's a good opportunity. A very difficult and challenging space to coach but good for learning."

Coaching has presented its challenges.

The new voice has added to them too.

While he misses the physicality and camaraderie associated with the game, his difficulties breathing has limited his ability to get hands on in training sessions.

"Every day when I go home I've got a sore throat," he said.

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"The part they fixed is stuck in my airway. I don't know if the muscles around it are trying to move it.

"If I have days where I help with first grade in the morning, reserve grade in the afternoon and Junior

Pathways after that, when I get home I have to tell Natalie, my wife, I need a little bit of time to rest my voice.

"She's adapted to it well. She's rock solid. She's helped me heaps, not only through the last 12 months but my entire career."