For some players, media appearances can be a chore. That’s never been the case for North Melbourne defender Nathan Grima, who gave Morning Glory listeners an insight into the mental demons that accompany serious injury this morning.
“It’s actually been good to have a chat, because I haven’t been able to have a laugh for a couple of weeks,” Grima told Morning Glory hosts Andy Maher and Andrew Gaze.
“I’ve been a bit emotional and a bit down in the dumps, so it’s been good to have a chat.”
It will surprise some to hear Grima speaking in such a way, even if his tongue was planted somewhat in cheek. The normally jovial 29-year-old admits that “when you’re my sort of personality, you’re generally up and about”, before adding, “but sometimes it’s a bit of a façade” – particularly when the game is throwing up the sorts of challenges Grima has been faced with lately.
Sad news for Nathan Grima. Will undergo surgery on back tomorrow #NMFC
— North Melbourne (@NMFCOfficial) February 17, 2015
The much-loved number 17 is recovering from back surgery, in which a “substantial piece” of bulging disc was removed, and admits it hasn’t been easy.
“Effectively what I can do at the moment is avoid sitting, so it’s lying down all day and then building up some slow walks. The first week I got up for about eight or ten minutes a couple of times per day and yesterday I walked for about twenty minutes.
“Sitting’s not ideal, and manual labour’s not ideal, so unless you pricks give me a job [at SEN, I might be in trouble]” – Nathan Grima
“I’ve been in bed for about the last two weeks. It was fun for about a day but unfortunately it’s been pretty challenging, not being able to bend or sit – even little things like taking the dog for a walk.
“When he backs one out, trying to get down to pick it up without hurting your back is pretty awkward,” Grima added with a laugh.
“I’m just resting up as best I can and giving myself every chance to heal.”
Last week Grima told AFL.com.au, “if you asked me a week ago what I wanted to do, I probably wanted to quit,” but now feels more optimistic about the road ahead.
“It gives me good confidence knowing I ended up playing in a finals series last year off the back of having 12 weeks off during the season when I couldn’t run at all with my navicular and I couldn’t train at all really through the finals.”
While the possibility of achieving success with a North Melbourne side that made a preliminary final in 2014 is keeping Grima motivated, the 86-gamer said his priorities have changed in recent years.
“If this had happened four or five years ago, all I would’ve wanted to do was not worry about the severity of it and just get back and play footy. But being 29 going on 30, it’s a completely different mindset. If you get back and play footy – I’m not overdramatising the op because it’s not that big a deal – but the football at the minute is probably secondary to getting healthy.
“As soon as I get back on track, if I play footy and it goes well, all and good, but it’s probably thinking post-footy – I just want to get my back right.”
— Hamish mcintosh (@HMcintosh01) February 17, 2015
Once footy ends, Grima knows his employment opportunities may be limited, and joked that he might be left with only one option.
“if I play footy and it goes well, all and good, but it’s probably thinking post-footy – I just want to get my back right” – Nathan Grima
“Sitting’s not ideal, and manual labour’s not ideal, so unless you pricks give me a job [at SEN, I might be in trouble].”
You’d be hard-pressed to find a footy fan who wouldn’t love to hear more of Grima in the media – equal parts of honesty and humour have him one of the most popular media performers in the AFL – but for now he’s just focusing on getting healthy again, hopeful that may lead him to on-field success.
“I can get back, definitely. Last time I got back I struggled a bit. This time, I’ve got to make sure I’m 100 percent so I can give myself the best chance to play, because with Shaun [Higgins] coming to the club and Jarrad [Waite], hopefully there are some good times ahead at North. I’d love to make sure I get to taste that a couple of times.
“I just saw Libba and Eric Mackenzie do their knees and I guess they’ve done all the hard work and will miss a year, so I actually get an opportunity to get back.
“Once I get over this emotional slump, I’ll probably realise it’s not that big a deal, but they do get you mentally, injuries, and I don’t think supporters appreciate that for not being inside a footy club – hopefully they do a bit more now.”
You can hear Grima’s chat with Morning Glory in full, below
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