Unfortunately, there have been many incredibly promising careers stunted or even ended through injury.

Perhaps the most famous instance came in 2012 when young superstar winger Jharal Yow Yeh suffered a terrifying leg injury which ended his career.

Having already debuted for state and country, the Broncos youngster was on a rocket to superstardom.

Another such player, and focus of today's What if Wednesday is another rep player who could have completely altered history if he avoided injury: Canberra's Terry Campese.

What if Terry Campese stayed injury free?

For those unfortunate enough to miss Campese's career, the Raiders utility was a joy to watch.

His career started slow, easing into first grade, playing nine games across his opening two seasons, before injury struck.

2006 was a complete write off which undoubtedly stunted his development.

It wouldn't be until 2008 that we saw what the future rep player was truly capable of. Partnering Todd Carney in the halves, Campese locked down his regular 6 jumper.

Funnily enough it was the departure of Carney that kick started his true assent.

In round 22 he scored 36 points, two short of equalling Mal Meningas club record. The fact he turned down a simple conversation which would have seen him enter the record books spoke volumes about his maturity.

He finished the season with an NRL leading five line-break assists as well as 25 try assists.

He was named five-eighth of the year and finished third in the Dally M overall standings.

His season finished by being named in Australia's World Cup squad. Unfortunately his involvement would be limited to one appearance due to injury.

He would make his Origin debut in 2009 and was thought to be the states long term solution in one of the troublesome halves positions.

Simply put, Campese was on track to become a Raiders legend and a main stay at Origin level.

In 2010 he was named co-captain in the capital and lead the Raiders to the finals. They disposed of the 2nd placed Panthers in round one but then his career would change forever.

During the do or die semi-final the Raiders were staging a comeback and has just put themselves within striking distance in the 56th minute. Campese, the Raiders biggest threat, went down clutching at his knee and would not only miss the rest of the game but nine months.

Terry Campese

He wouldn't return until mid 2011 where a groin injury ended his season just as quickly as it started. He lasted seven rounds in 2012 before another season ending injury.

He would ultimately return in 2013 but he was never the same. He was dropped to reserve grade in 2014 and released to England.

Oh how different it would have been if that awful knee injury didn't occur.

First and foremost the Raiders finished that game like a house on fire and if Campese had stayed on the field, I believe they win that game.

They were more than a decent shot of upsetting eventual premiers the Dragons in the grand final qualifier but ultimately were likely to run out of steam and fall to the well rested minor premiers.

We'll assume the 13-12 result stands as there was almost nothing between the Green Machine and the Tiges.

The Raiders, without Campese for almost the entire 2011 season finished 15th, avoiding the spoon by only points differential. Surely if their main playmaker had been fit and firing, they don't finish second last.

You'd have to think Campese wins them two games at very least leaving them in around 11th or 12th spot. Still disappointing but Campese's efforts in a losing side would have put him in origin contention.

Considering the number of options the Blues used in the 5/8th position during their desperate search for a drout breaking series win, I have no doubt they'd have gone back to Campese at some stage.

He would certainly have been in the running for the utility spot from the bench.

It's hard to say he would have made the difference in a series result but if he had continued to play as he had in previous seasons, who's to say he wouldn't?

Ruling out a try assist or line break to change the result of a game by a player of Campese's ability is impossible. I know that's some serious fantasy booking but he was that good.


Campese was ultimately limited to just 139 appearances for Canberra in a ten year stint.

If he avoids injuries he could have very realistically have played 300 games for the club and been a one-club player.

His ascent was so quick that he became the team's best player and captain pre injury.

He retired in 2016 but I would suggest he would have played until 2019, possibly even 2020.

The Raiders would have beaten the Tigers on that fateful night and possibly have knocked the eventual Premiers out.

Campese returns to Origin, likely as a utility and plays five or six Origins. He may have even played for the Kangaroos again.

Ultimately this was a promising career cut short after being hugely stunted just as he was peaking.

A real shame for a player with genuine Dally M Medal winning talent.

No one will forget his 2008 and 2009 seasons but an injury free Campese becomes a genuine megastar.