“He’s not just a quality footballer, he’s a quality young man.”
Easts Tigers coach Craig Hodges knows better than most what he has in 2019 club captain Brett Greinke and he also knows the work he will be putting into overcoming his latest injury.
When Greinke, a popular figure in the Intrust Super Cup, shared he had undergone surgery for an achilles rupture, the flood of well wishes were heartfelt from right across the competition.
His list of on-field achievements is long, including NRL contracts and representative appearances with the XXXX Queensland Residents, University, Under 18 and Murri teams, but unfortunately the list of injuries he has had to overcome rivals the list.
While the temptation is there to call him unlucky, Greinke is having none of that.
“Obviously it’s not an ideal situation to be doing an achilles – but I am feeling pretty good,” Greinke said.
“(It happened when I was) doing a fitness test, it was probably about a month into pre-season. I was on my last lap and I just turned on it and I kinda felt it and knew what it was straight away unfortunately.
“I was conscious of what it was, so I went to the physio and they confirmed it.
“I was pretty lucky, I got surgery on it a couple of days after that and from then, it was all about recovery.
“This is probably my fourth or fifth real serious (injury) where it has cost me six months every time... I think it is experience which has shown me what works and what doesn’t work.
“The first time it was a bit tougher (to deal with), because it was out of your control and it was something I struggled with, but that is probably the biggest lesson I have learnt is that there is no point expending energy into something I can’t control.
“It just is what it is. I just try to look at it as – as tough as I have had it, there are guys out there who have had it worse.”
It’s this pragmatism and positivity that really strike you about Greinke and how he has approached adversity in his life.
“Perspective is a powerful thing,” Greinke said.
“Sometimes you are in the hospital getting surgery or check-ups, you see people who are in a lot worse situations than yourself and that kind of makes you think ‘I don’t have it so bad’.
“(I have even had) team mates who have had their fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth reconstructions.
“I look at Jordan Kahu at the Broncos – he is a big inspiration.
“I think he’s up to surgery 13 or 14, which is insane to think someone has played at that level when they have been through so much, so if someone like that can play at that level and go through that.”
That’s not to say, however, that it’s not been difficult, and like all players who are struck by major injury setbacks, a successful rehabilitation and return to the field cannot be achieved alone.
Greinke has a strong support network surrounding him, and he continues to hold interests off the field including dance and a fulfilling job where he is constantly engaging with the next generation of Indigenous leaders.
In terms of football, being able to spend time at the club has also been beneficial.
“I have had some really serious injuries and probably the worst part about injuries, you can become secluded from the team," Greinke said.
“As much as you are around them before and after training, you are not necessarily putting in the same amount of work, you don’t feel equal in that regard; but at the same time, I am training four or five days a week and doing different things.
“There’s a few of us guys doing rehab and working on upper body weights at the moment and focusing on my own rehab.
“But it feels good to be still around the boys and hopefully as the games start coming up, I can lend me experience to a couple of the younger boys and try and help them out as much as I can.”
Hodges, who took over the reins at the Tigers late last year, has had a longstanding relationship with the representative forward and has seen firsthand how he continues to contribute to the culture of the club.
“I’ve known Brett for a long time. I coached him at the Under 20s and the Broncos Under 20s and I actually made him my captain at the Under 20s Broncos and I’ve had a long relationship with him,” Hodges said.
“I’ve followed his career as a senior player when he went down to Souths (Sydney Rabbitohs) and back here to Easts.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys in our group, so he’s good there as far as a senior voice or whether it’s a little bit of reason that he puts into a conversation or even if it’s just a calming influence he has on the younger fellas, just to let them know that they are going to survive, they will get through it and the sun will still come up tomorrow; a tough training session the world goes on.
“We certainly haven’t lost him as a person around the club, he’ll still be here every night and that will be very valuable for us."
While Greinke is fully aware of the hard work ahead, he is also unfalteringly positive in his outlook and hoping he can return to the field this year.
“The big goal is to hopefully play some footy this year,” the second rower said.
“They gave me eight to 10 months, so eight months would before the finals and 10 would mean the season would be gone, so really trying to push towards that eight months.
“I’ll just be doing everything I can.”