On a day when Sam Burgess added a compelling chapter to rugby league’s tales of grand final bravery, Vodafone Junior Warriors co-captain Mason Lino also displayed courage galore as he contributed to and ultimately savoured grand final glory yesterday.
Returning home with his NYC premiership-winning team-mates today, the 20-year-old halfback confirmed he had suffered another subluxation of his right shoulder inside the first 10 minutes of the title decider against Brisbane at ANZ Stadium.
Lino was sidelined by a similar injury earlier in the season but he wasn’t about to let it affect his premiership dream when it mattered most yesterday.
Indeed few watching the game would have been aware Lino was in trouble as he covered it up for more than 70 minutes to help the Vodafone Junior Warriors to their heart-stopping 34-32 win and the club’s third NYC title in five years (he also soldiered on despite a battering to lay on the winning try in the 29-26 win against Parramatta the previous week).
Facing Brisbane in his 62nd and last NYC match yesterday, Lino laid on two tries and also kicked five of six attempts at goal to finish his career with 503 points (only the second player in the NYC’s history to reach the 500-point mark).
He wasn’t showing or feeling too much pain afterwards, only elation as he and fellow captain Sam Lisone hoisted the heavyweight premiership trophy which will now spend its third year at Mount Smart Stadium.
Of the playing 17 used yesterday, 10 ended their NYC careers as did injured winger Metia Lisati, who travelled to Sydney with the squad.
Lino and team-mate Kouma Samson also played their last game for the Vodafone Warriors – for now at least – before leaving for Europe later this month to take up one-year contracts with AS Carcassonne in the French championship.