HE was known for his durability on the field but now a former Warrington Wolves captain is facing a much tougher battle off it in his native Australia.
Greg Mackey, who holds the club record for most consecutive appearances, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in December 2011 and after years of operations and chemotherapy has now been told his illness is terminal.
Former team mates and friends in Warrington have rallied around the 52-year-old’s family after hearing the news to help raise cash towards a new German drug trial as doctors try to do everything in their powers to support the former half back.
But the bubbly ex-Stockton Heath and Appleton resident is now also keen to raise awareness of the condition and encourage others to get checked before it is too late.
Speaking from his home in Sydney, the father-of-three said: “Nobody is bulletproof.
“I played nearly 192 games in a row and was a good athlete but that didn’t give me any predisposition to developing cancer.
“The boys I played with should go get checked, chalk it off the list and then I’ll have a smile on my face.”
The granddad to 10-month-old identical twins Grace and Lillian admits he knew nothing about the condition before his diagnosis which left the whole family in shock.
He added: “You really don’t know what you’re in for and I had never even had a chat with a cancer patient before so it was unchartered territory.
“I have got through it but it’s certainly been uncomfortable, painful and other words you can only imagine.
“But I have passed my genes on which is the biggest thing you’re going to do in your life and I’m strong in that way.”
Despite his illness Greg, who has been sharing his fond memories of his time in Warrington with former Wolves and now St George Illawarra prop Mike Cooper recently, has not lost his sense of humour.
He joked about tackling a Castleford player with a broken shoulder, even though he knew it would hurt him more, to avoid ‘facing the wrath’ of team mate Paul Cullen, who is among those organising fundraisers for Greg’s treatment.
Greg added: “It’s insignificant what I went through back then after the operations and chemo but it’s magnificent that people are trying to help us.
“You just can’t comprehend that sort of generosity and I’m so grateful.
“I have been given a year to live and they’re trying everything in their powers to find other drugs not just to work on me.
“I’m unlucky but people keep saying the doctors might be wrong.”
Warrington Wolves will be helping to raise funds as a club by raffling off a signed ball in the club shop and a signed framed shirt on matchday this Sunday.