When Jaemon Salmon broke his C1 Vertebrae last year it presented a huge mountain to climb for an 18-year-old looking to turn his rugby league dream into a reality.
Spending nine months on the sideline would be an enormous mental battle for any player looking to come back from injury, but the challenge that Salmon faced was much more significant than returning to the game he's grown to love.
While it cast a shadow of uncertainty around his immediate playing future in rugby league, Salmon says it was the ones closest to him that got him through the eye-opening ordeal.
"It definitely put things into perspective and made me realise that footy isn't everything, but I still wanted to keep at it so I could come back out of it and make a good return," he told NSWRL.com.au
After making his return in Round Five with the Parramatta Eels in the Jersey Flegg Cup this year, before earning his Intrust Super Premiership debut just a few weeks later, the dynamic five-eighth has quickly proven to be a shining light in a roller-coaster season for the Magpies.
He credits a strong pre-season and his time away from the game as the secret to his blistering form, which has culminated Salmon into one of the Magpies most lethal attacking weapons in recent weeks.
"I had a good pre-season to be honest - I came out of injury and just trained my arse off and worked hard. I've had a strong start, so I just got to try and keep it going," he told NSWRL.com.
"I was out for nine months and in a brace for a while, so it was pretty scary [because] it could have been pretty bad but I'm here playing now so it's good to be back."
The brutal circumstances would be an enormous challenge for any rugby league player looking
Unable to inspire his side to victory in the Magpies 16-10 loss to the Bears on Sunday afternoon, Salmon gave a brutally honest assessment of his performance despite his best efforts to salvage two much-needed competition points for his side
"They came out pretty hard and we tried to match them but they were just rolling through the middle and we didn't make our tackles," he said.
"We didn't play well as a team, I thought, and I put that on myself a bit to be honest, but we move onto next week."