Nathan Cleary climbed out of his hospital bed to steer Penrith to a win over South Sydney and help the Panthers claim top spot on the NRL ladder.
The Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues halfback had an off night with the boot after landing only two of five shots at goal but scored a try at the end to seal the Rabbitohs fate in the 20-12 victory.
Cleary’s father and Panthers coach, Ivan Cleary, revealed how his son had been battling cellulitis and had spent six hours on an IV drip at Nepean Hospital the day before the match.
He required scans to confirm the infection hadn’t spread and was only given the all clear to play only hours before kick-off.
“Monday, he turned up and his face was pretty swollen,” Ivan said.
“That’s when we worked out he had an infection so he went on antibiotics, didn’t really train, and then come (Wednesday) we sort of worked out the antibiotics weren’t really working. He was worse.
“He was in hospital most of (Wednesday), IV drip and that kind of stuff, and then started showing some better signs.
“We had to wait until (Thursday) morning pretty much and then decided he was OK.
“He definitely wanted to play but we made plans in case he didn’t. Our rehab co-ordinator did a great job, he was with him all (Wednesday) and he has a lot of experience in that area.
“Infections are a little bit tricky, especially around that area. He had scans and that yesterday to make sure it hadn’t got into his sinus area or anything like that so once they were clear and the swelling went down a bit he was right.
“It’s still a pretty good effort to come out and play well. His eyes were pretty puffed up for a couple of days and I think he was getting a lot of headaches from the pressure.”
Cleary has been in good form for Penrith since the NRL competition resumed after also helping to steer the club to an impressive win over Melbourne.
The Panthers are sitting in top spot for the moment but Parramatta and Newcastle could go past them with wins this round.