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Captain Courageous

Marc McGowan - AFL.com.au  September 16, 2017 4:08 PM

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Kamikaze North Melbourne skipper Jack Ziebell's courage was never in question, but Kangaroos coach Brad Scott has added to his legend.

Speaking at North's best and fairest count on Friday night, Scott revealed the extent of the injuries Ziebell played through in his first season in charge.

"I certainly don't want to embarrass Jack," Scott said.

"But there were times throughout the season when we wanted to rest him, mainly to protect him from himself, because of a broken collarbone, because of cracked ribs (and) a severely injured toe, which he's had fixed up just recently.

"Jack simply refused to lie down and pushed through a lot of the time at his own expense."

Ziebell, 26, missed only three games across separate stints this season, but played in major pain in many others.

The midfielder returned to the field after breaking his ribs in round 20 to boot five second-half goals against Collingwood. He missed the next week and was back for round 22.

Ziebell is not the first VFL/AFL footballer to selflessly push through the pain barrier for the good of his team.

Here's a few other notable warriors who went above and beyond the pain barrier.

Dermott Brereton (Hawthorn, Sydney and Collingwood)

The fearsome Hawk's reputation preceded him as he stepped out in the 1989 Grand Final against Geelong. In what was later revealed to be a premeditated plan, Cat Mark Yeates blindsided Brereton with a bone-crunching hit as players rushed in at the first bounce. The Hawthorn champion sustained two broken ribs and a ruptured kidney, but incredibly stuck it out to kick three goals. Fellow Hawk Robert DiPierdomenico followed suit later in the match, continuing despite broken ribs and a punctured lung from some Gary Ablett snr intervention. The brown and gold won a high-scoring classic by six points.

Jim Stynes (Melbourne)

Melbourne's 1991 Brownlow medallist is known for many things, including being the first great Irish export (with apologies to his Demons teammate Sean Wight). But above all was Stynes' amazing durability, which saw him break and still hold the VFL/AFL consecutive games record with an astounding 244 in a row between 1987 and 1998. There were many occasions when Stynes played with injuries, but possibly the most famous came in 1993, when he suffered severed cartilage in his sternum from a collision with teammate David Neitz. He was supposed to miss six weeks, but instead played in the next match.

Daryn Cresswell (Sydney)

Who will ever forget the gruesome vision of an agonised Cresswell repeatedly whacking his dislocated left kneecap until it went back into place against Geelong in 1997? He limped from the field unaided afterwards, later admitting in a Fairfax interview he did not "believe in stretchers". "It happened in the first quarter; it was a pretty wet field and I went to turn – my foot got stuck, my body twisted and my kneecap popped out," Cresswell said. "All I could think was, 'Get it back in, get it back in' – the pain was so bad." Cresswell played the following week and racked up 26 disposals as if nothing had happened.

Jared Crouch (Sydney)

There was a time when this tough Swan was considered a chance of overtaking Jim Stynes' consecutive games record, but his run of 194 matches from debut finally ended in 2006. Crouch hurt his ankle in the 2005 Grand Final and it was not until months later he realised the extent of the damage. But instead of immediate surgery he opted to postpone it and play from the start of the next season. The ankle could apparently hold up in the short term and get stronger with continued training and playing. The plan started unravelling in round nine, when he also broke his collarbone and couldn't train, so the ankle subsequently flared up. Then came a lower back injury and related hamstring problems, with Crouch finally calling time on his season after round 12 to deal with his many ailments.

Luke Hodge (Hawthorn)

Retired Geelong forward Cameron Mooney once wrote a News Corp article about Hodge playing the 2008 Grand Final with broken ribs. Mooney and his Cats teammates knew Hodge was taking the injury into the match and he decided to give the Hawk a none-too-friendly rib-tickler right before the first bounce. It was the first of many times that day that Mooney tested Hodge out and the issue, as he wrote, was none of it fazed his great rival, who played with a guard to protect his rib cage from further damage. Hawthorn won and Hodge won the Norm Smith Medal, sealing his status as one of the game's toughest players.