Rugby League Expert & Columnist
Terry O'Connor: Rugby league must do right by Dom Manfredi after retirement due to injury
Sky Sports rugby league pundit Terry O'Connor reflects on the news Dom Manfredi has been forced to retire aged 27 due to injury and hopes the sport will do the right thing for the Wigan Warriors player
Last Updated: 29/06/21 4:03pm
We often talk about agony and ecstasy in sport, but this week has really brought home the difference between elation and despair.
On Friday night, we saw the joy on players' faces as they pulled on an England jersey for the first time. From playing in the local park, wanting to be the next Andy Farrell or Kevin Sinfield, to finally making your international debut, it's the stuff of dreams.
But just 48 hours later, there's a lad going through hell; Dom Manfredi, injured in training and forced to retire at just 27. Dom made his way in the amateur game at Leigh and was always destined for big things, making his debut for Wigan in 2013.
Eight years later, who would guess he'd play just 82 games for the Warriors? He missed the final seven games of 2016 including the Grand Final. Of Wigan's 144 matches since, he's featured in only 24 - that's just 17 percent. That's not down to form, but to cruel injuries.
He has undergone three knee reconstructions and for any individual, long-term injury isn't just a physical battle, it plays games with the mind.
You ask will I ever be as strong again? Will I ever have the pace again? Will I get injured again? And it's not just the pain of those three operations, either, it's the hours training on your own, in a cold gym with your teammates together on the sun-drenched training pitch.
At 27, with six or seven good years still in front of him, Dom has had to make the decision that his body couldn't handle the pressure anymore. A young kid of enormous potential, ridiculously quick, who never fulfilled his potential due to cruel injuries.
Wigan's Manfredi to retire at end of the year
Wigan Warriors have confirmed Dom Manfredi will retire at the end of the season due to injury.
In the Super League era, he's one of the best wingers never to represent his country and if anyone wants a reminder, just go back to the 2018 Grand Final and his incredible double against Warrington.
For me - with all due respect to Harry Sunderland winner Stefan Ratchford - Dom was man of the match that night. He was an Old Trafford champion in 2018 and made the Dream Team in 2016.
I've never met anyone who had a bad word to say about him either; people within the game whose opinions I respect have always spoken about him in glowing terms.
While we enjoyed England's clash with the Combined Nations All Stars from the gantry, Dom was stuck at home - maybe watching, maybe not - having to make plans about his future. That Wigan shirt, the wing position he held, now passes to someone else.
We regularly see players posting on social media asking for help, having been forced to retire. Dom himself posted a message online apologising to fans for the way the last few years have turned out.
I found that hard to read, because it's not Dom's fault, it's just another cruel example of what the game can do to you.
I'm sick of hearing the phrase 'player welfare' being thrown around - we need to do everything possible to make sure he's okay. That to me is player welfare.
It's good to know that Wigan have pledged to manage Dom through to the end of the year, and I'm sure they'll be looking to send him out on a high. Dom has put his body on the line for the game, so let's hope the game will do right for him.
As for his next step, never underestimate the value players can bring to a workforce. They're disciplined, on time and problem solvers - attributes any employer is looking for. Rugby league's loss will be someone else's gain.