Allez, Kylian! 5 Super League players who played on with broken noses

Aaron Bower
Jon Wilkin, Andy Farrell and Dan Sarginson

The worldwide reaction to Kylian Mbappe’s broken nose in France’s Euro 2024 clash with Austria on Monday would have certainly had a few rugby league fans rolling their eyes.

Mbappe will wear a mask after colliding with Austria’s Kevin Danso during the game, but he was substituted in the aftermath of the incident – something a fair few rugby league players can no doubt relate to.

However, while Mbappe left the field and didn’t return, Super League players – as we know – are a different breed to their footballing counterparts. In fact, there’s been plenty of occasions when players have suffered a broken nose in-game and carried on to the finish..

Dan Sarginson

Dan Sarginson, SWPix
Picture by Allan McKenzie/

Former Wigan Warriors and England man Sarginson defied the pain barrier back in 2016 in a valiant attempt to try and get the Warriors to Wembley.

Sarginson broke his nose during Wigan’s Challenge Cup semi-final defeat to Hull FC and stayed on the field – and not just that, he played again less than a week later for the Warriors! It was well worth Sarginson going through the pain barrier though: Wigan ultimately won the Grand Final in his final game before departing for the NRL at the end of the 2016 season.

Andy Farrell

Andy Farrell, PA Images.
Picture by John Walton/EMPICS Sport.

The most infamous instance of them all? The images of Farrell playing on with a ridiculous amount of strapping across the middle of his face stand out as some of the most iconic of the Super League era.

It happened during a game against Leeds Rhinos in 2004, when Farrell twice left the field for medical attention, eventually returning with tape and strapping completely across his nose, which had been broken in-game. He headed for hospital immediately after the game: but stayed on the field to finish the match.

“He took a hell of a bang but played on adrenaline and determination,” then-Wigan coach Denis Betts said afterwards. That is one heck of an understatement.

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Jon Wilkin

Jon Wilkin

Another iconic Super League image that will surely stand the test of time is the sight of Wilkin, in the biggest game of the year, doing exactly what Farrell did and playing on in a big match with an outrageous amount of strapping across his face.

Wilkin collided with team-mate Paul Anderson during the early stages of the 2006 Challenge Cup final at Twickenham, leaving the field for treatment before returning later in the first half.

However, he had to leave the field on two more occasions to get the injury treated – and actually struggled to breathe at one stage during the game. He recalls: “I had to come off to change the strapping and then I came off in the second half because I couldn’t breathe. They stuffed cotton wool up my nose and the blood was trickling down my throat so I couldn’t get my breath.”

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Shaun Briscoe

Briscoe has, by his own admission, broken his nose more times than he would care to remember throughout his playing career. He said in a BBC interview in 2009 that he believed it had been broken at least six times!

Lee Gilmour

Another one of St Helens’ legendary treble-winners who suffered – and played on with – a broken nose in-game. Gilmour broke his nose during the early stages of a Saints win at Huddersfield in 2007.

He closed heads with Huddersfield’s Shane Elford and required extensive treatment. Those of a squeamish disposition may want to ignore the following quote from the St Helens team doctor, Simon Perritt, who said: “Most of his nose was left sitting under his left eye.

“All the nasal bones had been displaced. We stuck it back into position, but from a rugby perspective that wasn’t the main problem – we had to stop the blood flow for Lee to stay on the field.”


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