Alex Walmsley faced Wigan Warriors despite knee 'popping out' two days earlier
St Helens and England prop Alex Walmsley has revealed his knee "popped out" two days before the 2020 Grand Final and it took the club's physiotherapist two hours to put it back in.
Saints kept the injury a secret and Walmsley went on to help his team pull off a dramatic 8-4 victory over Wigan to retain their title before going in for surgery straight after the game.
Walmsley lifted the lid on the gruesome injury at the club's pre-season media day via zoom, insisting he was confident he would not do any further damage to his knee by playing in the final.
The former Batley forward sustained the injury in Saints' play-off semi-final against Catalans Dragons when the cartilage "popped out five or six times" and aggravated it at home five days later.
"I can laugh now but the Wednesday before the game the physio had to drive an hour and a half to my house to put my knee back in place because it dislocated and wasn't as it should be," he said.
"The cartilage had popped out again and I couldn't straighten my leg. The physio was on Facetime to the specialist and it took two hours to put it back in.
"It couldn't have come at a worst possible time but it's a Grand Final and, as long as you can put some boots on and you can strap some things up, you are always going to get out there and do the best you can for your team.
"The likelihood of any further damage was negligible and the operation was always going to happen.
"It was more than uncomfortable playing the game and I wasn't at my best that night but it was all worthwhile and I'd go through it all again to go through those moments."
St Helens won the game after the final hooter at the KCOM Stadium when centre Jack Welsby speculatively chased the ball after Tommy Makinson's long-range drop goal rebounded off an upright - but Walmsley says he was not aware of the try being scored.
"The last few seconds were crazy," he said. "I'll be honest, I thought Tommy had hit the drop goal, I was celebrating the drop goal.
"I won't tell you exactly what Tommy said but it was on the lines of 'I've missed, stop jumping on me'.
"It was an unbelievable finish to an unbelievable game. It was such a shame there wasn't 75,000 people there to see it.
"I'm probably still on cloud nine, I've watched the video back quite often with a smile on my face."
Walmsley, who turns 31 in April, is embarking on his ninth season with St Helens and intends to play out his career with the club.
"I owe so much to the club and how it's changed my life," he said. "There's no other club in Super League I'd want to play for.
"I do see myself finishing my career here. I'll hopefully have a testimonial next year and I'd like to extend beyond that.
"Although I'm on the wrong side of 30, I do feel I'm in very good shape. I'm as fit as I've ever been and I don't think there's any reason why I can't do another four or five years at this club."