Thursday 22 February 2018

New Zealand prop McKendry moves on from injury blow

NEW Zealand prop Sam McKendry brushed aside the broken jaw that ended his Four Nations campaign as "just one of those things" as he set his sights on playing again in eight weeks.

The 22-year-old Penrith Panthers forward was the victim of a dangerous shoulder charge by Bradford prop Craig Kopczak during the Kiwis' 36-0 win over Wales at Wembley on Saturday.

He was on the sideline yesterday, watching the Kiwis on their training run in Leeds ahead of their tournament-defining clash against England in Hull before returning to London for a check-up.

With his jaw now plated following a three-hour operation, McKendry spoke for the first time about the tackle.

"I just saw him (Kopczak) fly out of the line and put a shot on me," he said.

"I got up and felt my mouth. At first I thought I'd lost some teeth and I just kept playing on for a bit.

"I realised then that something wasn't quite right. I could feel part of my jaw moving around.

"It's a setback but it's just one of those things. That's football. It's the first time I've broken anything."

McKendry suffered a break on the point of the jaw as well as fractures of the lower mandible on the right side of his face, leaving his bottom teeth out of alignment.

He had initially been keen to return home to Sydney as early as possible if he had been cleared to fly following the operation but he said he now wanted to stay on.

"I've been told I should be right to return to full training in eight weeks and I should be able to start running again fairly soon," he said.

Kopczak was facing a one-match ban after being found guilty by an international match-review panel of an illegal tackle but was let off with a caution when he faced a disciplinary hearing, leaving him free to play against Australia in Wrexham on Sunday.

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