To hell and back: Slade’s Story
Of the 34 players running out for this year’s NRL Grand Final, none deserve to be there more than Slade Griffin.
The 26-year-old has just about been to hell and back in recent years but all that will be a distant memory as he fulfills wildest dream on Sunday night.
Three knee reconstructions in four years would just about end the career of most players.
Not Griffin though. Instead of breaking him, the experience has made him.
Griffin played 11 games in his debut season of 2013. He then had to wait 1,056 days for his next chance to pull on the purple jersey again.
Countless hours of rehab, setbacks, more rehab, more setbacks, it never seemed like it would end.
However his one game and only game in 2016 gave Griffin something to build on and when the Origin period rolled around this year, the reliable utility was ready to take his chance.
Griffin came into the side and put in a rock solid performances at hooker which earned him a bench spot when Storm’s Origin stars returned.
He has not let go of that spot since.
Craig Bellamy is big on his role players and few play their role better than Griffin.
Having grown up in Greymouth, a New Zealand town so small traffic lights don’t even exist, he admits he is still coming to terms with the fact he will be front and centre on rugby league's biggest stage.
“It is a buzz, to go through what I did, I never thought I would get here,” Griffin said.
“For a boy to come from a small town like I have and to play in an NRL Grand Final is just amazing. I am really excited. It has been a bit of a rush getting the family sorted but it is all done now so we get to enjoy the week.”
Griffin’s story is one that breeds hope, happiness and proof of what can be accomplished by just never, ever giving up.