AJ?s bad break
By TONY WHITE
'AJ' Whalley's chances of playing for Perth-based Western Force in the Super 14s this season have literally been crushed, but the powerhouse prop remains optimistic about his future.
The Grafton-raised forward and former Australian Under-21 representative badly injured his right thumb playing rugby for the Cottesloe Club last Saturday.
Whalley underwent an operation last Monday and will be sidelined for at least 10 weeks.
"I went to palm-off a bloke and my thumb got caught under his chin," Whalley said from Perth yesterday.
"I tore the ligaments off the bone.
"I was operated on and they (doctors) pinned the ligaments back on the bone.
"It's a real b....d, but never mind.
"It will give me a chance to work on my legs," Whalley added jokingly.
While the Western Force have had a tough initiation into the Super 14s competition, Whalley's chances of gaining selection in the top squad were increasing after some strong performances in club rugby.
The untimely injury has dashed Whalley's Super 14 chances, but he is looking down the track with anticipation.
"The injury is a bugger. Coach John Mitchell was going to give the younger guys in the team a run during our last three matches in South Africa," Whalley said.
"This is the worst injury I've had, operation wise. I had a stress fracture in my foot two years ago which kept me out for 13 weeks, but they didn't have to operate.
"I've still got to train every day, running, weights etc. I just can't do anything that puts pressure on the thumb.
"While I'll miss the Super 14s, we (Western Force) have a tour mid-year to Dubai and South Africa, so I'll be aiming to be fit for that.
"Then there's two games against two Japanese teams coming out to Australia in June-July and six games in the Australian Provincial Championships in September-October.
"I've still got 10 games to look forward to, so it's not a complete wreck."
Whalley, who moved from Warringah (Sydney) to Perth this year after being contracted by the Western Force, said he was really enjoying the lifestyle.
"Mate, it's awesome, really great. I love it," he said.