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To'o tough: Day pint-sized Panther marched a mile on broken leg

"If your leg's not broken you're good to get up and keep going."

Brian To'o has recalled his old man's advice more than once as he shimmies, shakes, and often just charges straight into the land of NRL giants.

Going more than the extra mile though and walking two kilometres on a fractured fibula to get to Penrith training, might be a bit much.

To'o ranks as one of the NRL's smaller wingers but there's never been cause to question his commitment against opponents that often tower over him to the tune of 10-15 centimetres.

That same commitment left Penrith physios stunned when a 17-year-old To'o caught a bus, a train and then walked half an hour on a broken leg in 2016…

To tell them he had injured his ankle playing in a school footy gala.

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"I was in the grand final and my ankle got caught in a tackle," To'o grinned ahead of Saturday's grand final qualifier against South Sydney.  

"All I knew was that I couldn't run and I couldn't walk properly. So I came off and the teachers were telling me they could drop me off wherever I needed to go.

"But I didn't want to be burden so I just said 'I'll be fine' and didn't tell them I had training.

"I got all the ice I could, caught the bus from Whalan to Mt Druitt, caught the train to Penrith and then walked from Penrith station to the stadium, to tell the physio 'I think there's something wrong with my ankle'.

"Once the physio took off my sock and saw how blown up it was, it ended up being a fractured fibula.

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"The physios just spun out. I guess it was just the adrenaline keeping me going, I had no idea how bad it was.

"I think I was out for about four months, just with it healing on its own, no surgery, no nothing."

To'o has come a hell of a way since that trudge into Panthers headquarters, which came a few years after being told he was just too small for the Panthers Harold Matthews side.

His willingness to push through pain did slow his rise by a few months though and earned the wrath of his mum Fati.

"Apparently I was supposed to make my debut for under 20s that week too," he said.

"Ciro [then under 20s, now first grade assistant coach Cameron Ciraldo] came and told me I would've debuted because they were short on players.

"As soon as I told mum that I'd busted my ankle and could've debuted for 20s, man I was ready for a spray.

"Dad was sweet, he told me just to be mindful of those kind of things. But mum, I'm scared of mum. She gave me a hug in the end."

As a wing pairing To'o (182 cm) and Josh Mansour (183 cm) are often dwarfed by their opponents.

Rabbitohs outside men Jaxson Paulo (192 cm) and Campbell Graham (197 cm) make for obvious aerial targets on both edges come Saturday, though by the same token Penrith's Stephen Crichton (193 cm) and Brent Naden (188cm) are no slouches under the high ball either.

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"We laugh about it me and 'Sauce'," To'o said.

"We look at some of the other wingers and we're joking, 'If I stand on your shoulders, that winger's still taller than us'.

"We always joke around about it but when the time comes to playing we always put everything."

Acknowledgement of Country

Penrith Panthers players and staff respect and honour the traditional custodians of the land and pay our respects to their elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.