JUST six months on from suffering a traumatic arm injury, Collingwood defender Jeremy Howe has played out the thrilling Grand Final win with three broken ribs.
A big bump from Brisbane star Charlie Cameron left Howe on the MCG turf early in the final quarter of the Magpies' epic four-point victory, which secured their 16th premiership.
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Howe had to leave the ground after the clash, but returned to play out the game in obvious discomfort.
"Three broken ribs will do that I reckon," he told AAP.
"They're clicking flat out. It's not ideal."
Howe admitted feeling "s***house" as he nursed a beer in the raucous Collingwood rooms.
But the pain couldn't compare to landing awkwardly from a marking contest against Geelong in the opening round of the season.
The 33-year-old was stretchered off the field after breaking his arm in a freak accident that was deemed too gruesome to be replayed during the broadcast.
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Less than two weeks after surgery, an infection set back his recovery and left Howe uncertain about his future.
"Just probably thinking about hanging (the boots) up, to be honest. First six weeks were really bad with my arm," he said.
"Contemplated everything really, it's amazing what thoughts go through your head – predominantly negative ones."
Winning a Grand Final was certainly not one of the things Howe thought about.
But with the support of wife Kahlia, he bounced back to make his return in round 15 against Adelaide and play every game from there on en route to lifting the premiership cup.
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The key defender was crucial for the Collingwood defence, racking up 24 disposals, seven intercept possessions and four score involvements with a team-high 591 metres gained.
"It's in the history books now," he said.
"To get back at all was going to be a massive bonus but this? This is hard to explain. I'm not sure if it's real yet.
"I'm just so grateful to be able to share it with my family 'cause they're the ones that got me through.
"Especially my wife, she sees me at my worst and that (arm injury) was definitely my worst.
"She got me through, got me back, gave me the kick up the arse when I needed it and the rest is history."