Penrith can thank an invention made out of cotton fibre some 40 years ago by a teenage university student for playing a big role in delivering them the premiership on Sunday night.
Terry Kempnich, now a 60-year-old Brisbane businessman, was a promising league player for Nerang Roosters when he dislocated his shoulder in the surf in the early 1980s.
Kempnich was studying human movement at the University of Queensland at the time – and decided to experiment to save his football career.
“I wanted to keep playing footy but my shoulder was a mess,” Kempnich told Wide World of Sports.
“I thought there must be a way to hold it in place and reduce the risk of it dislocating again – so I used my knowledge of movement and biomechanics to come up with a prototype of a brace that goes around the back and shoulders.”
His home made device, which restricts movement and keeps the shoulder stable, was made out of a strong cotton fibre and proved an immediate success – and the Kempnich shoulder brace was born.
It has been used by plenty of players ever since – including Nathan Cleary for the final two months of the NRL season after he dislocated his shoulder in State of Origin.
Without it, he would almost certainly have damaged the shoulder further and required season-ending surgery – a scenario that would have ended Penrith’s premiership dream.
“It gave me a lot of pride to see Nathan wearing it all these years later,” Kempnich said.
“I’m sure it kept the shoulder stable and enabled him to keep playing.”
Kempnich patented his device and it was eventually bought out by the Madison Sports Company, which still markets it today.
“I didn’t make a fortune out of it, but it did allow me to take a nice holiday at the end of every year,” Kempnich reflects.
“I’m just glad I have been able to help guys like Nathan keep playing footy.”
Ironically, Kempnich was cheering for Souths in the big one.
“I joined the police force for a while in Brisbane after uni and Wayne Bennett was one of my instructors,” he explained.
“He was a great guy then and I have always followed his teams – but I’m happy for Penrith – they deserved it.”
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!