Why fearless Ipswich Jet is finally slowing down
EVEN after finger surgery and with damaged ribs, dependable team man Ben Shea would play on if he could.
"The quicker you try to get back the better,'' he said, reflecting his trademark rugby league determination.
"I don't like missing too many games.''
However, the powerhouse Ipswich Jets forward is planning a low-key long weekend instead of joining his team heading to Papua New Guinea to play the Hunters.
"I'm rehabing as much as I can, just trying to get the body right,'' Shea said, now managing his latest rib injury.
"I'll have a quiet Easter and go back to the doc mid next week and we'll kind of see how much it's settled and we'll reassess from there.''
Given Shea also works in scaffolding and rigging, "sore ribs isn't really great for picking up steel and throwing steel around''.
"I'm having a bit of a rough trot at the moment,'' Shea said, reflecting on his recent injuries.
His first injury this season was a dislocated left pinkie finger. Shea needed mid-week surgery after hurting his digit in Ipswich's 28-16 win over Northern Pride on March 30.
"It came out once and then the doc put it back in,'' he said.
"Then it came out another two times in the game and I was able to get it back in so it was pretty loose by that stage.''
At home that night, Shea's dislocation occurred again after he thought everything was back in place.
"And when its come out in my sleep, the tendon got stuck in the joint . . . so it was kind of out from Saturday night until Monday morning,'' he said.
After seeing the doctor and getting X-rays, Shea learnt he needed surgery such was the extent of his painful injury.
"It was pretty uncomfortable,'' he said.
But after sitting out Ipswich's next game against Redcliffe, Shea wanted to play in the Jets' latest clash against Norths last Sunday.
He strapped up his left hand finger and soldiered on.
But five minutes into last weekend's game, he copped another setback.
"I landed awkward on the ball,'' Shea said. "The ball landed under my ribs and another two guys came in and then we rolled.
"It kind of pushed my ribs back into my stomach.''
As for treatment this time, rest is the main priority.
"There is not really much we can do,'' he said, in his second season with the Jets.
"It turns out it was at the front so it's more rib cartilage damage than bone.''
As much as he wants to play on this weekend, that decision is out of his formidable hands.
"I like the trip to PNG just to get over there,'' he said.
"It's disappointing not to be able to play with the boys, especially being so low on troops.
"It's probably better to rest up and take a bit of extra precaution. I pushed it with my finger I guess.''
That is important for Shea who has just turned 30.
"I've probably been in the best shape in my career being in the Jets system,'' he said.
The regular lock is happy to fill whatever role Walker brothers Ben and Shane assign him.
"I kind of float around anywhere now that I'm in decent shape and lost a bit of weight,'' he said. "I think last year I played six to eight games in the back row and on the edge.''
The Jets are assessing their injury toll before heading to PNG on Friday for Saturday's game in Port Moresby.
Valuable Ipswich teammates
WHILE he won't be on the plane to PNG, Shea is happy to see former premiership-winning Wynnum teammate Peter Gubb performing so strongly in his first season with the Jets.
"It's good to see him back in Queensland Cup,'' Shea said of the imposing winger.
The duo played together for a number of years from 2012 at Wynnum before joining the Jets.
Shea and Gubb also linked up with Jets captain Nat Neale for the Queensland Residents in 2013.
"I've got on with Nat real well,'' Shea said.
However, he's still coming to terms with another Jets teammate who continues to torment opposing players with his menacing approach.
"I remember coming across Billy McConnachie in about 2015 or something and thinking who is this lunatic frontrower,'' Shea said. "I'd rather play on his team.''