Ipswich winger Rogan Dean lost his left foot in a motorcycle accident last month but is already planning to run the New York Marathon when he gets his new prosthetic leg.
The determined 28-year-old, who spent two seasons playing under 20s at the Cowboys, has also been inspired by his conversations with Storm premiership winner and former Kiwi international Tawera Nikau who in 2003 had his right leg amputated just below the knee following a motorcycle accident.
Dean, nicknamed 'Guns' by Channel Nine's Intrust Super Cup commentator Scott Sattler for his 48cm biceps and extraordinary physique, lost his left foot at the scene of the accident.
After two surgeries he decided to undergo a mid-shin amputation to give him access to a wider range of prosthetics and a better quality of life.
"The first few days were pretty tough trying to accept it but after stewing on it I came to the conclusion that I can’t control what happened to me but I can control how I can come back and recover from it," Dean said.
Dean could have elected to have a slip-on foot which he said would have “looked normal” but would have prevented him from pursuing his dreams.
The range of prosthetics available to him means he will still be able to run.
"I will be able to go to the gym, bike, swim and still do pretty much everything I could before the accident,” he said.
"I have heaps of goals. I still want to be involved with the Jets, because they have been a great club helping me out through all of this.
"I have got a close mate who had a bad car accident and was paralysed from the hips down so we are talking about doing a two-man rowing team.
“I still want to be able to fulfil my competitive side whether it be sprinting or having a look at the Paralympics.
"I want to do everything I did before the accident and more, so I have got a few mates [including former teammate Ben Shea] I’ve teed up to run the New York City Marathon again.
"If I can get one of those nice running blades I could probably do a bit of sprinting and throwing events. I just have to get on top of the rehab."
Dean’s partner and mother have been assisting him as he stays in a unit close to the Royal Brisbane Hospital.
Mum Leeanne Johnstone said she was "very proud" of her son and his attitude.
"He has been like this his whole life," she said.
"It is just another bump for him, and he’ll get there. I love him even more every day.
"He just has to get on top of where he is now and nothing will hold him back. He is already challenging his sisters to races and a couple of his best friends as well.
"They reckon this is the only time they might beat him, but he won’t let them."
Dean’s four-year-old nephew Varli is also backing his uncle to rise again.
"When Rogan showed him his stump he said 'you are going to get a robot foot like Iron Man and you will be able to shoot bullets and fire'," Leeanne grinned.
Speaking with Nikau has given Dean a real sense of optimism and belief about his own road ahead.
After his own amputation, the 1999 premiership winner forged a successful career as a coach, in media and in business.
"Tawera reached out and gave me a call and his accident was very similar to mine where he was on a motorbike and got hit by a car," Dean said.
"I had a thousand questions that not many people could answer unless they’d been through it themselves and he was able to answer those questions.
"Hearing the quality of life he still has where he can still do everything he’s wanted to do, it was really good talking to him."
The accident was a month ago but Dean can still remember every detail.
"I was just out with one of my best mates going for a ride on our Harleys and I got to two minutes from home when a car cut across two lanes and T-boned me on the motorbike," he said.
"I remember going over the bonnet and cartwheeling across the bitumen.
"The first thing I noticed was the gravel rash on my arms and then I went to stand up and put that leg down and felt the bones hit the bitumen, looked down and saw there was no foot there.
"I was lucky that in the car behind there was a paramedic on her way to work and she was first on the scene and got the ambulance on the way straight away. She kept me under control, so I was quite lucky."
Dean said he experienced a "10 out of 10 pain" at the scene of the accident and while the surgical pain has worn off he said he still has "a lot of nerve pain" in what is a virtual ghost foot.
"I have a lot of phantom pain. If I wiggle the muscles in my leg I can still feel as though the foot is there," he said.
Next week he will get a tighter compression sock put on his leg with a view to getting a cast done the following week for a prosthetic leg.
"Then from there it will take three or four weeks to build a leg, and from there I should be able to put it on and learn to walk again," Dean said.
"I’ve been lucky enough over at the hospital in the amputee physio [room] they have got a little gym set up so they have been quite helpful in letting me get some exercise in."
Dean, who wants to inspire others with his own story said he regained his love of rugby league at Ipswich under former coaches Ben and Shane Walker and owed a lot to the Jets.
"It is not just a footy club, it is a big family out there,” he said.
"The support I have had from them has been unreal and that is why I want to stay involved with the club to give back as much as I can for what they have given me.
"I definitely want to look at inspiring as many people along the way as I can, just like Tawera has for me.
"Once I get back up and around I'd like to go up to the hospital once a week and speak to amputee patients going through the same thing."
Ipswich Jets CEO Richard Hughes said Dean had been a team and fan favourite for his engaging personality and powerhouse performances and now the club was rallying around him.
"We have set up a Go Fund Me page which has raised around $15,000 and with these things we know it is a long road to recovery so he will need the help and assistance for years to come," Hughes said.
"There is a position at the Jets waiting for him and our coach Keiron Lander has him in his plans for the next season.
"I have been involved in a lot of charities and seen a lot of hard stories and when I look at Rogan he is a great inspiration.
"He won’t let what has happened rule his life from here on. He is very much determined to get back into work, sport and all areas so his life can return to normal as quickly as possible."
*To assist Rogan with his recovery go to https://www.gofundme.com/f/rogan-dean or find the GoFundMe page and search for Rogan Dean.