Four years ago, doctors told Josh Webber he might never walk again.
But in just a few weeks, he will take to the field for the Goulburn Bulldogs in the first round of the 2019 season.
The years interceding Webber's injury and his return to the Bulldogs' ranks have been the hardest of the 20-year-old's life, but he intends to make the most of his second chance.
Webber's troubles began when, as part of the Goulburn Stockmen Under 16s side, he first experienced tingling in his arms and legs after a crusher tackle during a match.
He went to hospital, but no damage was found, so Webber continued playing and thought nothing more of it.
In 2015, having moved into the Bulldogs' Youth League side, Webber was at training and received a big tackle during a drill.
"It wasn't on purpose, but I got hit pretty hard by a guy with a tackling pad," Webber said.
"All I remember is looking at the ball and then waking up."
When he regained consciousness, Webber couldn't move any part of his body below his neck.
He was airlifted to Royal North Shore hospital in Sydney from the Goulburn hospital.
In Sydney, Webber underwent scans and was found to have a tumor and a blood clot towards the bottom of his spine, which impacted his C3, C4, and C5 vertebrae.
Three days later, doctors told Webber it was unlikely he would ever walk again.
"That's when I was really down and depressed, I just didn't want to be around anymore," Webber said.
But "I had great support from Goulburn, I had great support from my family, I had people traveling up to see me all the time."
Defying all odds, Webber walked out of the hospital three months after his injury and, after another three months of rehab, was back to running.
His doctors were pleased with his recovery, but at a loss to explain it.
Webber played two seasons in Sydney after his return, and then in late 2017, traveled to Queensland for a shot at the Under 20s Hasting Deering Colts, which is an Easts Tigers feeder club for the Melbourne Storm.
Despite impressing in the trial games and earning a couple of contract offers from the Easts Tigers, Webber struggled for funds and returned to Sydney, where he took a year-long break from rugby league in 2018.
Now, Webber is fresh and eager to play in 2019, and finds himself with a renewed outlook on life after his injuries.
"I believe everything happens for a reason," Webber said.
"[The injury] made my whole perspective on life. Don't take life for granted, enjoy the little things, be grateful that you wake up being able to feel your arms, be grateful you're able to walk, because some people don't have that luxury."