Dragons winger Jordan Pereira is thanking his lucky stars he's again able to play rugby league after a horrific injury which led to fears he could lose his arm.
Pereira was back in training in the 35 degrees heat at WIN Stadium on Tuesday following a lengthy recovery from the freak accident while crossing for a try in July's Canterbury Cup match against Newtown at Henson Park.
"There was a chance I could lose my arm," Pereira said.
"The functionality of my right arm was severely weak. I couldn't pick up a cup of water to drink out of it was so weak, and there was no pain.
"It was super weak so obviously that would have been a career-ending injury."
Sims: The only way is up
Scans and X-rays cleared Pereira of a serious neck injury but he suffered damage to his brachial plexus – the nerve group which comes from the neck and gives the arm function and feeling.
Pereira then had to simply wait to discover if he would regain movement as specialists were unable to advise him about the recovery of nerve damage.
"I am obviously happy that my body is feeling good," he said. "I am not as strong in one particular area but on the field it doesn't seem like it's going to affect my football.
"The neurosurgeon told us that there was basically nothing could make it better but time."
It was also unlikely that Pereira could cause more damage so he worked on improving his speed before being cleared to play for Illawarra in the semi-final of the Canterbury Cup.
The 26-year-old said the match gave him confidence heading into this season and he was now focused on winning back his place in the Dragons starting line-up.
"After getting my first few carries out of the way I felt like I had the same strength I had prior to that [injury] so that was massive for my confidence moving forward," Pereira said.
He's not the only Dragon on the comeback trail with forward Tariq Sims sporting an "ugly" scar from a double groin reconstruction with hernia removal that cut short his 2019 season.
"It brings a tear to my eye," Sims said after describing the operation he finally underwent three months ago after playing through the pain of the injury since February's Charity Shield.
"It feels so good to run without being in pain or having to warm up for 25 minutes just to run."
Sims is also feeling positive about the season ahead after playing with the pain of a severe groin injury until St George Illawarra's finals hopes were gone in Round 22.
With the Dragons incurring a heavy injury toll that included Gareth Widdop (shoulder), James Graham (broken leg), Corey Norman (fractured cheekbone), Korbin Sims (broken arm), Tim Lafai (ankle), Tyson Frizell (ruptured testicle) and Zac Lomax (broken thumb), Sims continued playing.
"I actually did it in the Charity Shield – both of them," Sims said. "It was a tough year but with the coaching staff I felt we managed the situation with the groin as best we could to make sure I was out on the field. Unfortunately, we were dealt some injury blows so I just couldn't take that time off.
"To be where I am and in the position I am in I am really happy at this point of my recovery."
Dragons' top five tries of 2019
The Dragons returned to training this week under assistant coach Dean Young and a new look off-field staff and were put through an arduous session on Tuesday, which included a 1.2km run.
Head coach Paul McGregor is due to return next week from a study trip to the United States, while former Cronulla premiership winning mentor Shane Flanagan is expected to come on board as an assistant next month.
"A bloke of his calibre and coaching experience I think will better our leadership group," Sims said of Flanagan.
"I don't know him from a bar of soap but from what I have seen he is one of those blokes who commands respect because he has earned it. If it is true that is great for the club and I think it is going to be good for the playing squad."