With an illustrious rugby career behind him, playing social soccer with a few friends should have been a breeze.
But a favor and a freak accident left Wallaby's Richard Tombs in a hospital bed five times, barely able to move.
Tombs, 51, replenished in August last year for the keeper of his 35-year-old Curl Curl team when he was kicked in the ball after a powerful attempt at the team's opponent.
He should never have been there.
Richard Tombs, former Wallabies star, 51, played soccer with friends on a Saturday when a bizarre accident changed his life
Mr. Tombs suffered a devastating fracture in his backbone after an opposing striker made an uncomfortable attempt at goal, slipped towards him and collided with the head of the sportsman
His family and friends have all gathered around him using a Facebook page called Guns Out For Tombsy to send messages of support
Writing for the Player & # 39; s voice, he revealed that he had not played much in the position, but when their regular goalkeeper broke his ankle, he stepped out to help the team.
He also entered the game in the next game and only lasted & # 39; 10 or 15 minutes & # 39; before an uncomfortable ball approached him.
& # 39; The ball came into my arms and my defender peeled off & # 39 ;, he wrote. & # 39; But the striker kept coming. He ran with his thigh on my head.
& # 39; The impact hit me with a kind of whiplash on my back. That was the moment. & # 39;
Mr. Tombs should not have scored goals that day, but had offered to step in for a teammate with a broken ankle
Mr. Tombs said, while lying on his back, he was barely able to move – and some movement could not be controlled.
When an ambulance arrived, he was rushed to North Shore Hospital and had surgery on the spine. His prognosis wasn't immediately clear, but it didn't look right.
He had had a horrible fracture in his spine, which meant that he might never be able to walk again.
But the former rugby star has undergone exhausting rehabilitation for months and is determined to get up again.
He says he was urged to seek recovery from a British surgeon who was visiting when he was recovering from the accident.
Mr. Tombs said the surgeon had asked how he was doing before he asked for his feet to move.
When the sportsman was able to move on command, the surgeon was overjoyed.
& # 39; That's great! You walk again. You start walking again, & he said to him.
He initially had a bleak prognosis and said he might never walk again, but Mr. Tombs has worked hard for almost a year to get back on his feet.
He completes severe rehab for hours every week to try to get more exercise
Richard Tombs played five international games for the Wallaby & # 39; s and was a member of the rugby union team for the NSW Waratahs
Since then, Mr. Tombs has done everything to agree with that doctor.
Hours and hours of rehabilitation, with the help of parallel bars, then crutches, almost saw him reach his goal, but then spasticity – an incurable condition that forces his muscles to contract – starts.
& # 39; It really has a grip on me. It has put me in a different state of mind, to be honest, & he said.
Mr. Tombs is still trying to heal as much as possible, and pushing to get up again.
In the meantime, his community has gathered around him, using a Facebook page called Arms out for Tombsy to keep friends informed of his condition and to raise funds for research into cure for spasticity.
Mr. Tombs says his family and community have gathered around him as he fights to rise again, with fundraisers, meal donations, and endorsements
Earlier this year, Mr. Tombs (pictured with his wife Carissa) was diagnosed with spasticity, significantly reducing his recovery plans. The sportsman is still working hard to maintain as much movement as possible
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