Marcel Meunier has spoken of his brush with death after being knocked out by a falling tree which almost left him paralysed.
Meunier, who coaches Wahgunyah's reserves, was rushed to hospital and didn't move for four days while doctors investigated.
The arborist suffered multiple spinal fractures but escaped without life-changing damage and was reunited with his children days later.
Incredibly, Meunier is not only back at work and coaching the Lions but he's been running out to play senior football in the Tallangatta & District League.
"Someone was definitely watching over me because I should have been dead," Meunier said.
"I still had the chainsaw in my hands when I got knocked to the ground and knocked out by the tree, so that could have come up on me
"Just to get up from it and not be paralysed, the doctors said if it had gone the other way, I would have hit all the nerves and I was gone.
"The tree ended up turning and I found myself in a bit of trouble.
"I tried running out, the tree came down, I tried to get between the barrel and the branch and it ended up slapping me to the ground, spun me around and knocked me out.
"I got back up in about 10 seconds, got my breath back and tried to keep working but they called an ambulance.
"The trauma team was there at the hospital and that was a bit scary because I had 12 people around me.
"When I told them the barrel hit me, they said 'don't move, don't do anything', and I had a bunch of scans.
"I did it on the Monday or Tuesday and I wasn't allowed to move until 9pm on Friday.
"I couldn't move and with COVID, I couldn't have anyone in there.
"I was quite isolated.
"Ringing my kids, telling them I may not walk again, that was pretty emotional.
"When we got the results back, they showed it was only fractures, it didn't quite go right through.
"A little bit further and I would have been paralysed from the chest down.
"It was a pretty hard week, to just lie there.
"The first couple of days, I had all of that going through my head.
"How am I going to pay the bills?
"Am I going to walk again?
"But because I could feel my legs and move my feet, I had a bit of hope there."
There was huge relief when Meunier was discharged and able to see his family that weekend.
He spoke to Wahgunyah president Darryl Hore and was soon back at training.
"I slowly got walking, over time, and got talking to the surgeons to see what I could and couldn't do," Meunier said.
"I wasn't going to play until towards the end of the year, get myself right, but because I've been coaching the boys, taking training, it really gave me itchy feet.
"I wanted to do a jogging run out here first, to see how my body went, but it didn't work out that way.
"I just jumped in on the weekend, coached the twos and played seniors.
"I was pretty anxious before I ran out, because I'm the type of player who loves to get in and have a crack.
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"I got a first little hit and I knew then I wasn't fully right, every bone was sore, but once I got into it and warmed up, it wasn't too bad.
"The ball didn't come much down the forward line but I ran up to the back line a few times.
"I got my nephew out of the ruck and had a jump at the ruck a couple of times.
"My whole body was sore on Sunday, every muscle, but I know where I'm at now.
"I was quite lucky.
"It's good that I've had this club here, to come down, because they've given me a lot of support.
"I was happy to play on the Saturday for them."
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