Scarlets wing Harry Robinson has revealed he feared he would never play again because of a serious neck injury.
Robinson, 22, had surgery in May after a heavy collision in a Pro12 game in March forced two discs in his back to protrude onto his spinal cord.
He returned to action earlier this month in a Welsh Premiership match for Llanelli RFC and could feature for Scarlets against the Dragons on Friday.
"It's a huge relief. It was a lucky escape really," said Robinson.
"When the injury first happened I wasn't too sure if I'd actually be able to come back and play rugby again."
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Robinson has identified a tackle in the Pro12 loss at home to Edinburgh at the end of March last season as the cause of the injury.
Despite feeling numbness throughout his body, he stayed on the pitch, and remarkably played in the next three games. It was only after having a subsequent scan that the full extent of the injury became clear.
"I had a nasty bang in the Edinburgh game and my whole body ended up going numb. I couldn't feel my feet and I lost all sense of balance," he said.
"So I'm 99% sure that's when it happened. In the collision, I think two of my discs must have slipped and ended up going onto my spinal cord.
"It was pretty frightening but in the heat of the game you just carry on really.
"I went for a scan not long after and had the two discs that had gone into the spinal cord removed and they fused vertebrae three, four and five together. It was a big operation."
Despite the severity of the surgery, Robinson was given an encouraging prognosis over his rehabilitation.
He also found support and guidance from Scarlets and Wales hooker Ken Owens, who had surgery last year for a second slipped disc.
The biggest doubt over Robinson's recovery was whether his movement would be restricted in his neck and how much pain he would be able to tolerate.
So far there have been no problems, with Robinson coming through 60 minutes on his return to action for semi-professional side Llanelli RFC against Ebbw Vale on 17 October and then playing the whole match last Saturday in their win over Bedwas.
Such has been his progress, the wing is being considered for a rapid return to the Scarlets, who are likely to give Tom Williams, on loan from Cardiff Blues, his first start against the Dragons on Friday.
"It's great to be back on the pitch," he said. "I'm really looking forward to getting back into the main picture.
"Tom's come down and has played really well so it's going to be quite a fight to get back in there but I'm looking forward to the challenge."
Robinson, who moved from Cardiff Blues in 2014, was the top try scorer at Scarlets last season with nine tries, making him a contender to be selected for Wales' World Cup training squad.
He first broke into the national squad as a raw 18-year-old in 2012, but for now his international ambitions are on hold as he prepares to see if his neck can withstand the rigours of professional rugby.
"I'm just thankful to be able to put my boots back on in training," he said. "I'll just take it a game at a time and see what happens in the future.
"Fingers crossed over the next few weeks I'll be putting my boots back on for the Scarlets."