Two and a half years on from a horror injury that placed his career in danger, Josh Mansour will line up for Penrith in Sunday’s Grand Final against Melbourne and put his life at risk.
Mansour sustained a major facial injury in April 2018 that placed his career on its death bed, as Dr Malcolm Lyttle suggested playing on could cost him his life.
Intensive recovery and immense courage has seen the Panthers winger make a comeback to the NRL and is now a vital cog in this unstoppable Penrith side.
Speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald, Mansour revealed just how close he was to ending his career following Lyttle’s diagnosis.
“He wasn’t confident for me to ever play again,” Mansour said.
“He kept stressing to me that if I copped another knock to the face, it was a matter of life and death; that if I cop a bad enough hit, I could die.”
Lyttle ranked Mansour’s injury as one of the worst in his experience, with the Penrith gun breaking five bones in his face following a knee from Titans winger Anthony Don two years ago.
“He [Lyttle] freaked out about how much bone was shattered,” Mansour said.
“He couldn’t believe the force that went through my face. He’d seen 12 people in his whole career as bad as me. People who had that similar injury to me were car accident victims and army soldiers injured in bomb blasts.”
Mansour’s wife, Daniella, revealed her husband only had one question in mind following the injury.
“Malcolm sat us down and spoke about all the details of the surgery and the potential risks,” she said.
“After he finished speaking he asked if we had any questions and Josh straight away said: “Will I play football ever again?’ That was his first question. Not what will I look like, not will I be able to play with the kids. It was about football.
“If the surgeon tells Josh he can play football again, to him that’s a full life. That was the only question he had to ask. I wasn’t going to influence his decision. It was his choice. It’s his dream. How do you tell someone, ‘No, you should stop living your dream now?’
“Everyone that plays knows the risk. Anything can happen on any given day, you just don’t know. It’s not my position to tell him he should stop.
“You could die in a car crash. I worry about that every time I take the kids in the car. But can you really live your life scared? He was living his dream. In everything you do there’s a risk. If you are scared you’ll never live life to the fullest.”
Mansour said he will never forget the moment he woke up from his surgery.
“I remember when I woke up, my eyes were completely shut and I didn’t know if I could see,” a teary Mansour said.
“I lifted my eyelid with my fingers and the first people I saw were my wife and daughter. It’s a pictured memory in my head. I’ll never forget it. I’m getting emotional now thinking about it.”
After being assisted by medical staff following the injury against the Gold Coast, Mansour was told not to blow his nose as it may cause sever damage to his eye. The Panther was in so much agony that he had forgotten the staff’s advice and was soon in hospital following the action.
“If you blow out of your nose with an orbital fracture, air can go through the pocket and pop your eye out,” Mansour said.
“I was in the shower and completely forgot about it because I was in all sorts and had so many thoughts going through my head wondering if I was ever going to play again.
“I forgot and I blew my nose and my whole eye puffed up. There was this massive air bubble and they rushed me straight to hospital.”
Mansour revealed the injury has left a number of damages.
“I still have a bit of nerve damage,” he said.
“I get a lot of tingling and numbness just above my cheek. When I go to clip my beard where my moustache is, it gives me a funny feeling in my face. But I’m OK. Daniella has been massive for me. I knew she was worried, but she never let that fear impact on me.
“If I had to worry about the fact that she was worried about me, it would have been hard to keep playing; it would have held me back. I wouldn’t have got through it without her support. I would’ve retired if she didn’t want me to play.”