'A shock': How Renouf beat odds in 1993 Broncos GF win
Steve Renouf started the 1993 rugby league season in a state of shock after being diagnosed with a career-threatening disease.
He ended the year braving a broken jaw to help Brisbane to a grand-final win over St George.
The four-time premiership-winning centre's story is an inspirational tale of how to rise above obstacles that could easily become stumbling blocks.
Known for his ability to make the hard look ridiculously easy, Renouf's 1993 triumph revealed an inner toughness that was at the core of his success.
The modern-day Broncos face St George Illawarra on Saturday night at Suncorp Stadium, a day after the 1993 team celebrates the 30th anniversary of their 14-6 NSWRL grand-final win over the Dragons with a luncheon at Brisbane City Hall.
Wind back to 1992, and Renouf scored an all-time classic try in the Broncos' inaugural premiership victory over the Red V and also plunged over for the winning try for Australia in the World Cup final.
He was on a high, but that was all about to change.
"I came back from the Kangaroo tour and lost eight kilos quickly," he tells AAP.
"I look at old photos and my eyes were sunken into the back of my face.
"I went to the gym and had no energy and no muscle bulk. The boys couldn't believe how skinny I was.
"I got a blood test and I was a type-one diabetic. It was a shock. I thought, 'How can I be a diabetic when I am so fit?'.
"But it is hereditary and nothing to do with the lifestyle diabetes which is type two."
Renouf went to see his GP Peter Friis, who was also the club doctor.
"I had two options. He said, 'You can look after it and have a long career, but if you don't look after it you won't have a successful career'," Renouf says.
"I had to test my blood glucose six to eight times a day, and have four to six injections a day.
"I did what the doc asked me and within weeks I was right to go."
It was a pattern Renouf was to follow for the rest of his career.
Diabetes under control, he went on his merry way in 1993, scoring oodles of tries right up to the round-20 clash against Balmain.
But on a visit to his home town of Murgon, the centre was king-hit after attending a 21st birthday party. The culprit went to jail but Renouf required two titanium plates and screws inserted to fix his broken jaw.
Having being apprised of the situation, coach Wayne Bennett went to speak to the 23-year-old.
"Wayne came to my house," Renouf recalls. "He said, 'You didn't do anything wrong did you?'. I said, 'No' and told him what happened.
"Wayne said if I got better he'd put me straight back in the team.
"The team played well and I didn't think I'd get back in, but five weeks later he was true to his word and put me back in for the prelim final against Canterbury."
Renouf's jaw was still broken but strong enough to take a punt again in the decider. He wore Madison headgear throughout his career and modifications were made.
"They put padding down where my jaw was broken, inside a strap," he says.
The Dragons were aware of his discomfort and opposing centre Graeme 'Penguin' Bradley was given a mission.
"They had scare tactics and made out Penguin was out to get me but he was like that anyway," Renouf grins.
"A good bloke, but a pain in the arse when you played against him. Nothing dramatic happened.
"We dominated in 1992, and when we won it was jubilation," Renouf says.
"In 1993 it was relief after we came from fifth. It wasn't until later that night that it sunk in we'd gone back-to-back.
"We never forget what (lock) Terry Matterson did. He had busted his shoulder three weeks before and came back when he had no right to. He was tough. We needed him."
It was, in truth, an uninspiring grand final, with all the drama coming either side of the game itself.
Beforehand, Bennett showed the players the alleged tip-sheet of Dragons coach Brian Smith, which included a raft of insults about Brisbane players concocted by the Broncos mentor himself.
Renouf was on it.
"It said something like, 'Run at Renouf because he can't tackle'," Renouf chuckles.
"Wayne was always tight-lipped about what really happened there."
Back in Brisbane, the celebrations began in earnest.
Broncos captain and joker Allan Langer sang 'St George can't play', an insult that lingered in the hearts and minds of his opponents.
"Alf (Langer) had a few too many, like we all did, and lost his voice in the end. Everybody was happy about that," Renouf says.
Renouf and the Broncos have a double celebration this week, with the 38-12 NRL grand-final win over Canterbury in 1998 also being remembered at City Hall.
Langer is now assistant coach to current Broncos boss Kevin Walters.
Both were heroes of 1993 and 1998. Can they revisit past glories in 2023 and go all the way?
"They are looking good. Kevvie has got them firing," says a smiling Renouf.