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Knights Old School: McCormack, the Gladiator

Here at, we're always on the look out for incredible stories from yester-year.

One that caught our eye this week comes from edition one, volume two of the Knights Country magazine, published in August 1992.

The three-page feature, appearing on pages 12-14, details the struggles of Knights great Robbie McCormack after he suffered a sickening leg injury in 1988, all the way through to his return in 1990.

The following is an excerpt from that article:

Robbie McCormack doesn’t believe in miracles. But on a warm Sunday afternoon in late April 1989, he was praying for exactly that. A cruel twist of fate had left him laid up on a hospital bed, his rugby league career seemingly in tatters.

Such was the extent of a serious leg injury, doctors told him he would probably need extensive therapy to walk again and virtually ruled out the possibility of him ever playing football in the future. For McCormack, visibly straining from the pain of his shattered leg, it was like receiving the death sentence.

Only hours earlier. He had run out for the Knights in front of a big home crowd to take on the North Sydney Bears. Playing at lock, he was having a whale of a game when suddenly the world came crashing down around him.

Attempting to step, his right leg buckled underneath him, and he collapsed in agony. He had broken his leg and ankle in the one movement and the sound of the crack and the sickening sight of his twisted foot turned the faces of several of his team mates white. Some could barely watch as he was stretchered off the field after a delay of several minutes.

After several sleepless nights, McCormack spent the next eight weeks in plaster. But while the doctors were convinced his playing days were over, they had not counted on the courage of the former Inverell boy. Every spare moment from the day he could get around again was spent in the gym or at the physio. Swimming became a daily routine with McCormack vowing to fight his way back.

While his teammates were talking a well-earnt rest between the 1989 and 1990 seasons, McCormack worked his guts out in a bid to get back on the paddock.

That he was able to prove the doctors wrong and start the 1990 season was a testament to his commitment and his will to succeed. Then coach of the Knights Allan McMahon, who had seen first-hand what McCormack had put himself through, declared he had the heart of a champion.

Amazingly, after initial complications from scare tissue and ligament problems, McCormack went on to play 18 first grade games for the season and was an integral part of the Knights charge to the semi-finals.