Connor Squires’ love of rugby began when he started playing the sport aged six.
Now he must come to terms with watching from the sidelines after suffering a serious spinal injury in January.
The 18-year-old fractured two vertebrae in his spine and snapped ligaments in his neck when he fell badly during a tackle.
Doctors said that he would have been paralysed if his spinal column had been pushed just 3mm further out of line.
“It was the last tackle of the game,” he said. “All the other player’s weight landed on my neck. It felt like a rope twanging.”
Within 10 minutes, Connor was being treated by specialists at the spinal injuries unit at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.
He reached a milestone in his recovery last week when the neck brace he had worn for three months was removed.
Connor had been playing for a Huddersfield New College team when he was injured, but regularly took to the field for Dewsbury Moor ARLFC.
And it is members of Dewsbury Moor who have rallied round him.
Connor, of Sellerdale Avenue, Wyke, said: “When I was in hospital, more or less everyone involved in the club came to see me.”
They have also raised £2,000 to help him in the months ahead.
Club president Peter Charlesworth said: “It’s devastating when we hear of somebody with a neck injury. I knew people would come to the fore.
“They have all rallied round and we’re going to put him through a coaching course.”
Connor’s dad, Dayle Squires, said: “We’d like to share our tremendous gratitude and thanks to everybody who supported the fundraising in any way. The response from the rugby league community and the club in particular has been fantastic.”
Connor had been due to take part in a trial for Yorkshire on the weekend after he was injured.
“I’m gutted,” he said. “I’ve loved rugby since I was six. I had applied for the RAF two days before I hurt my neck and now I can’t do that either anymore.”
But he has been accepted onto a sports science degree Leeds Metropolitan University and will put the funds raised towards his studies.
Connor said: “It was always my back-up and I’m really looking forward to it now. I’m also coaching the U13s now with another of my teammates and I still come down to help out during games. It’s the closest way to stay part of it without running about.”