SEVERAL years ago Orange resident Rocky Mileto was involved in a devastating rugby accident, and has strong empathy for Newcastle Knights forward Alex McKinnon, who was injured in a tackle against Melbourne Storm players last week.
In a similar freak accident, Mr Mileto was injured in a flying wedge tactic during a rugby game in Orange.
“Alex made the mistake of ducking his head, which is exactly what I did when I felt someone coming up on me,” Mr Mileto said.
Now a quadriplegic and in a wheelchair, Mr Mileto says he has made contact with Mr McKinnon’s family through the Men of League organisation to offer support and encouragement.
“The most difficult part of sustaining a serious injury is learning to accept you may not be able to do what you once did,” Mr Mileto said.
“The hardest part is embracing that injury.
“I have looked at the footage a few times and I could see he was terrified.”
“The most difficult part of sustaining a serious injury is learning to accept you may not be able to do what you once did"
When he was injured Mr Mileto thought it was a blow he would never recover from emotionally, setting aside the physical challenges.
Yesterday, on his wedding anniversary, he said going on to meet his beautiful wife Derani and having twin sons Rocco and Marco, now aged seven, was something he could not have dreamed of.
“It’s one of the first things you think of as a young man when you have that type of injury, that you can’t have a family,” he said.
Mr Mileto said, like his own experience, he was sure the league community, families and friends would rally around Alex McKinnon during his recovery and rehabilitation.
“It just feels awkward coming to terms with asking for help with things in your everyday life,” he said.
“His emotions will play a large part in his recovery.”