The latest twist in Madden's roller-coaster season
RUGBY LEAGUE: Jack Madden was primed for a big year.
After a memorable debut season for the Rockhampton Leagues Club Capras in 2017, the champion halfback was destined for bigger things in 2018.
Coach Kim Williams thought so too, bestowing the captaincy on the skilful, hard-working 24-year-old before the 2018 Intrust Super Cup season kick-off.
Madden considers the leadership role the biggest achievement of his career.
"I'm very honoured and privileged to have that title. It's something I don't take lightly and I love it, I love being the captain of the Capras,” he said.
There was an air of excitement and anticipation at Browne Park when the Capras took the field for their Round 1 clash against Easts Tigers on March 10.
Madden was at his best, marshalling his troops to perfection to ultimately guide them to a 15-14 victory.
But with just minutes left on the clock, he suffered an injury that was to sideline him for the next 10 weeks.
What has initially diagnosed as severe bone bruising was later found to be a fractured fibula.
Madden did everything in his power to get back on the paddock and, at the weekly press conference in early May, Williams was excited to announce his skipper would be back for the Capras' Round 11 clash against the PNG Hunters.
To nobody's surprise, the player Williams rates as "one of, if not the toughest guys in the our team mentally” played the full 80 minutes on his return.
Jack was back and the signs were good.
"I thought I went all right. It was nothing too outstanding but I didn't expect to be red-hot as soon as I came back,” a modest Madden said.
"I felt like I was building back into it and thought I was not far away from playing my best footy.”
The Capras were on the road for their next game against the Redcliffe Dolphins.
Twelve minutes in and disaster struck.
As Madden sent one of his well-directed kicks into opposition territory, he was hit flush on the previous injury in a tackle.
"I didn't realise that it was re-fractured but I knew I had done something to it because straight away it wasn't feeling the best,” he said.
"It was pretty painful and it got worse as the half went on. I knew at half-time I was in a bit of trouble and I didn't go back out for the second half.”
It was a cruel blow for Madden, who is expected to miss another four weeks of football.
"I haven't had a season like this before, to tell you the truth. It's definitely the worst I've had in terms of injury and the amount of time I've had out,” he said.
"I thought I was in for a pretty big year and for this to happen, and in my first year as captain as well, it's really disappointing.
"To be struck down again is pretty upsetting but that's footy sometimes and there's not a lot you can do about it.”
While he admits it's frustrating watching his teammates train and play, he has been a permanent fixture at each training session and each game.
"It's hard but I can't afford to be selfish and disappointed about what's happened to me. I've got to think about how I can help the team when I'm not playing,” he said.
"I give the boys little pointers here and there that I think will help them in a game and also help their individual games.
"It's good to be involved and it actually helps to keep my mind off things.
"I'll definitely get past this. I just need to be patient and not come back too early if it's not right, even if I want to.”