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Penrith coach Ivan Cleary has made a startling revelation about the injury his star fullback Dylan Edwards has been carrying for the last month, in the wake of the Panthers' grand final victory over South Sydney.
Cleary hailed the courage displayed by his side after clinching the club's third premiership with a thrilling 14-12 win against the Rabbitohs at Suncorp Stadium.
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A number of Panthers players had been carrying injuries over the last month of footy, including a knee issue for James Fisher-Harris, a calf strain for Moses Leota, a battered shoulder for Nathan Cleary and a lingering syndesmosis issue for Brian To'o throughout the finals series.
However, it is the braveness of Edwards that will likely be remembered most, with the coach revealing that his fullback had been playing and training through the pain of a broken foot for weeks.
"Dyl has had a broken foot for a month, has not trained," Ivan Cleary said after the match.
"He walked around on crutches every week and then goes out and plays. I don't understand how it happens, but it sums up the bond.
"We have had a lot of guys play through injury all season. Bizza (To'o), Tyrone May.
"It just created that culture that no one wanted to be the one who put their hand up and say I don't want to play. It was incredible."
Panthers fullback defies injury in amazing display
Edwards spent the majority of grand final week on crutches as he dealt with the broken foot, before running an astonishing 217 metres and making a crucial last-ditch tackle on Cameron Murray late on in the grand final victory.
Cleary admitted he'd endured a sleepless night on match-eve, fearing the repercussions of his club's mounting injury toll and the fact it could bring his team undone.
"There was at least five who shouldn't have been playing today," Cleary admitted.
"It was a calculated risk on a lot of boys. I woke up at 2am (Saturday) morning and couldn't get back to sleep.
"Thinking three or four of them could have been gone by 10 mins. They just refused not to play.
“It’s hard for me to explain, it’s incredible.”
Penrith's injury toll throughout the finals is made even more remarkable by the fact they had to do it the hard way after losing in week one to the Rabbitohs.
Their tight wins in week two and week three were played at an intensity greater than State of Origin with high ball-in-play time.
They were also forced to make more tackles than any other team over the past four months.
But they were able to control Sunday's grand final with Nathan Cleary barely troubled while kicking, and rarely coughing up the ball at their own end.
"I can't wrap them enough, the courage these boys have shown," Ivan Cleary said.
"We really couldn't train the last three weeks as a team with so many guys not training.
"Lucky the games were so hard each week, that was enough training.
"It's purely on courage these boys have won."
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