Player PJ Marsh


Brisbane Broncos hooker P.J. forced to quit rugby league with neck injury

By Peter Badel
March 14, 2010

Former Queensland Origin hooker P.J. Marsh says he is devastated as he comes to terms with the reality that his 10-year NRL career is over.

The Brisbane Broncos rake said that he was "in shock for two days" after a meeting last Tuesday with Gold Coast neck and spinal specialist Matt Scott-Young, who delivered the words Marsh wasn't ready to hear.

"It's all over for me," said Marsh, who will undergo disc replacement surgery in his lower back on Monday week.

"It's not the way I wanted it to end but it got to the point where it was affecting my life and I couldn't keep going on like this.

"I haven't been able to sleep properly for two years and there were days after training when I would need to stand under a hot shower for 30 minutes just to give me some relief in my back. I couldn't even play a game of backyard cricket with the kids.

"I'm really proud of what I've been able to achieve. The Broncos have been fantastic, they've said they'll help me out with my rehab so I just want to get the surgery done now and in three months' time I'll be able to live a normal life."

Marsh's career has been at the crossroads since February, when the former Parramatta and Warriors hooker was so paralysed by his back pain that he couldn't get out of bed while in camp with the Indigenous All Stars team.

Marsh, 30, and his manager, Jim Banaghan, met Broncos boss Bruno Cullen on Thursday to inform the club of his injury-enforced retirement.

A veteran of four Origin games, Marsh was off-contract at season's end, with his 2010 deal worth about $180,000.

The No.9 played just five games for the Broncos last season, but the club has promised to help Marsh financially and provide medical and rehabilitation services.

"One of the most comforting things P.J. heard when he found it was over is the Broncos saying, 'Don't worry about money, worry about your health, we'll look after you'," Banaghan said.

"He hasn't been able to play as much first grade as he would have liked, but they've treated him like they would a seasoned Test player.

"He's been in absolute agony, he can no longer put up with it."

Marsh played 158 games with Parramatta, the Warriors and Brisbane, featured in the Eels' 2001 grand final defeat, and showed enormous courage to return from neck surgery that threatened his career in 2003.

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One of my favorite players at the Warriors, the burst from dummy half and his linking with support players was enough to put bums on seats. With the Warriors PJ excelled and that showed when he made the QLD side. I wish him well.


Have you got PMS (pre match stress) today 2B2S?

Bad luck for PJ, great player for the Warriors. It's hard for him to think about it now but footy just aint worth spending the rest of his life in a wheel chair over and yes there is life after footy.


Have you got PMS (pre match stress) today 2B2S?

Bad luck for PJ, great player for the Warriors. It's hard for him to think about it now but footy just aint worth spending the rest of his life in a wheel chair over and yes there is life after footy.

No, I'm just hungover in bad way. Apologies for anything I might say in the next couple hours, I will no doubt regret it when I'm sober and ask for everyone to forgive me so I may as well say sorry now.


All good mate, we all tie one on and suffer the results the next day from time to time.

NRL: Former Warriors star PJ Marsh opens up on struggles 20 years after serious neck injury​

Former New Zealand Warriors star PJ Marsh says he still struggles with recurring pain following a serious neck injury suffered almost 20 years ago.

Marsh played 35 games for the Warriors across three seasons in between stints with the Parramatta Eels before ending his career at the Broncos.

He started in the Warriors' grand final defeat against the Sydney Roosters in 2002, the same year he made his State of Origin debut for Queensland.

But the following year he suffered a serious neck injury playing against the Eels.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, he has revealed almost 20 years later he's still dealing with the pain.

"I don't want this to be about 'poor me' but things are hard. I can't even go for a run, the pounding on the footpath is too hard, I can't use the gym," Marsh told the Daily Telegraph.

"I just deal with it and get on with it."

Marsh opened up about the tackle in the round 14 game at Parramatta Stadium when Eels second-rower Darren Treacy joined a tackle attempt, putting pressure around the Warriors hooker's neck.

"I heard a couple of cracking noises," Marsh said. "It was probably accidental. I fell into it a bit.

"As I tried to get up to play the ball I had this ridiculous pain through my whole body.

"It scared the absolute shit out of me. You try to wiggle your toes and move your fingers.

"It's shocking fear. They put me in a brace. Then an ambulance. Then hospital and I couldn't move for two days."


X-rays later revealed a neck fracture which saw Marsh miss the rest of the 2003 season and the entire season the following year. He continued playing in 2005 until a back injury lead to medical retirement in 2009.

The Broncos paid out the final year of his contract but the medical bills still went up as he continued to undergo tests by making the trip from his home in Yeppoon to see specialists in Brisbane.

"The cost has been enormous," he said.

"In any other industry where you get hurt as seriously as I did, you get your medical bills paid or at least some help with them.

"I've tried cortisone injections and exhausted every medical avenue ... It all adds up.

Marsh also spoke about the mental health battles that he has faced after his career. He turned his back on rugby league and didn't want his sons to play the sport with his wife registering them while he was away one weekend.

"I couldn't believe the game wiped me the way it did. I've never had anyone check on me since the day I retired. Maybe I'm partly to blame because I just sucked it up and didn't reach out for help.

"A lot of people do the old 'there's a lot of people out there going worse than you'. Well, am I meant to feel better because some poor bugger feels even worse than me. At my lowest points, I felt pretty damn ordinary. I hated football, I hated everything. I didn't watch it, I didn't want my kids to play. I gave all my jerseys away. My Warriors grand final jerseys. I didn't want anything to remind me of the shit I'd been through.

"It was my wife, who has been incredibly supportive, and three beautiful kids that kept me going."

Marsh's 15-year-old son Braelan recently signed with the Dolphins and has been in the Broncos and Cowboys development squads.

Marsh revealed his situation because he wants strong penalties and deterrents to continue in the NRL, especially around crusher tackles.

"You've got to make the consequences serious to stamp them out.

"They can potentially end a career. They're worse than a punch.

"The bunker should be able to pick them up and they can act on it.

"Not just on report but use the sin bin. You don't see a punch anymore because you're immediately off."

Marsh said the neck pains aren't there every day but it's still a recurring issue.

"It's for peace of mind because I still get nervous that something in my neck isn't right.

"The pain in my back and neck still gets me ... Not every day but it's there. I've learnt to live with it.

"I just don't want my kids or any other footballer to experience what I've been through."

Wow, what a read.

I don't like the way it was delivered on NRL 360 the other night, but those remarks they played from Gus Gould in the channel 9 commentary about the spear tackle on Cameron Murray were shockers. For someone so knowledgeable and influential in the game he should have known better.

While it may seem like over-officiating the refs are doing the right thing with their tough stance these days on pressure on the neck, especially after reading PJ's experience above. True that players are milking it at times which is pretty ordinary, but the officiating is a necessity.