Joe Picker of the Raiders during the round six NRL match between the Canberra Raiders and the New Zealand Warriors at Canberra Stadium in April.

Joe Picker of the Raiders during the round six NRL match between the Canberra Raiders and the New Zealand Warriors at Canberra Stadium in April. Photo: Getty Images

Canberra forward Joe Picker has revealed he spent five days in a Newcastle hospital battling a bout of golden staph which forced him to miss the Raiders’ win over the Knights.
An infected boil was the initial reason given for Picker’s late withdrawal from last Saturday night’s clash at Hunter Stadium.
But at the same time his teammates were notching a crucial 32-16 victory, Picker was under the surgeon’s knife as doctors worked feverishly to arrest the infection.
The 24-year-old was admitted to hospital on Thursday night and returned to Canberra to rest up on Tuesday.
Despite the ordeal, Picker insisted he should be back at training next week and available for selection for the Raiders’ next match against North Queensland on June 23.
‘‘We originally thought it might have been a boil, but it was a cyst abscess and it grew down through my layers of skin,’’ Picker said yesterday. ‘‘I was isolated [from other patients] the whole time and they were pumping some pretty solid antibiotics into me, some of the strongest they had.
‘‘It was quite painful before they took me into surgery, because my whole [right] forearm was swollen.
‘‘I missed the boys playing because I was in theatre, and had to watch the replay.  It’s drained me a fair bit, so it will probably take me a few more days.’’
Picker is unsure where he contracted the infection from, but has been told an illness in the lead-up to Canberra’s 40-0 loss to Wests Tigers on June 2 was likely a contributing factor.
‘‘I was real crook before the Tigers game and missed a few days’ training,’’ he said. ‘‘I trained a bit and then played. My body had enough, got run down and couldn’t repel the staph. The doc said something like 50 per cent of people in the world carry the golden staph bug, but your body has to have a weakness to it for it to do anything. ‘‘He said I may have picked something out of the ground [against the Tigers], it could have been at training, the possibilities are endless where it could have come from.’’
Picker added it isn’t a condition that will require regular monitoring for the rest of his career.
‘‘I don’t think it’s something I have to worry about,’’ he said.
‘‘Maybe if I do get crook again and am on heavy antibiotics, maybe just take that extra day off.’’
Picker thanked Raiders prop Dane Tilse, who also battled the infection a few years ago for his reassurance when he was bed-ridden.
‘‘Tilsey’s had it once before so he was up there and came and visited me a few times which was good,’’ he said.
‘‘He told me a few things about it and it was good to get on top of it. It’s always nice that somewhere’s there to tell you it’s no big deal if you don’t let it get too far.’’
Picker is likely to battle with fellow second-rower Trevor Thurling for a place on Canberra’s bench for next week’s crunch match in Townsville.