MATT COOK could have been forgiven for shouting from the rooftops after marking his 250th Super League appearance with a try last week.
The Castleford Tigers forward was left unable to talk for six weeks after suffering a vocal chord injury in the Tigers’ victory over London at the end of June.
The 32-year-old prop played the following week in Castleford’s defeat to Leeds Rhinos but was then forced to miss the next two months of action.
He returned last week as the Tigers put their play-off destiny back in their own hands, scoring the final try in their 44-12 demolition of Hull FC.
“I had a trauma to my throat and it was a strange one,” he said.
“It hurt for a couple of days and then for about two weeks I had no symptoms and was fine.
“But then suddenly my voice completely went and I couldn’t talk or speak in any way.
“It was gone for six weeks. We first thought it was laryngitis so I was even told to stay away from the club for a week to make sure I didn’t spread it to anyone.
“It turned out it wasn’t laryngitis; I saw a specialist and she said it was vocal palsy which is a mild paralysis of one of my vocal chords which prevented me from communicating and talking to anyone.
“She did say it could last for up to a year so that scared me a bit. Thankfully it’s back now and I’m back playing.”
Cook initially thought that he would be able to play through the silence but admitted: “As a prop I thought I’d be able to get away with not being to talk out on the field and I could just trundle it up fine.
“But communication is a massive, massive part of our game; I soon realised that out on the training paddock that I couldn’t really play.”
Castleford travel to Wigan tonight, knowing that a win will guarantee them a play-off place for the third season running.
A defeat would mean that a victory for Hull FC - at home to league leaders St Helens - would knock the Tigers out of the top five.
Only 10 points were scored as Wigan won a water-tight contest 6-4 when the sides last met in April.
“Wigan are in some real good form and playing pretty hot,” he said.
“It’s always a very tough and intimidating place to go to, a great stadium and always a big game even the last one where there wasn’t many points scored.
“That was a tough old game at their place a while back.
“It will be a big challenge but we’re coming off the back of some form ourselves and to know if we get the job done there we’re definitely in the play-offs is a massive driving factor for us to make sure we get the two points.”