GOLD Coast recruit Michael Barlow has revealed he feared his career was over after he sustained the second serious leg break of his 138-game career last weekend.
Speaking publicly for the first time since the injury - suffered against Carlton at Metricon Stadium on Saturday night - the 29-year-old spoke of the relief which accompanied medical advice that he would be able to return to play in 2018.
"I didn’t fracture the tibia this time, which is the main weight bearing bone," Barlow told Channel Nine.
"I did a fair bit of damage to my ankle and fibula, but in terms of the first time I did it, they’re pretty much chalk and cheese.
"I’m really confident with this one, although I’m out for the rest of this season, the recovery time will be far more limited."
Barlow also recalled the moment he knew his 2017 season was over.
"I did (hear the break) this time," he said.
"I was in the tackle, I remember going for the ball and picking it up, and then I braced for the tackle, and then I did hear it … like a branch snapping.
"So, no pain, but I heard the snap. I looked at the leg and it was all intact, so for a fleeting moment I was like 'maybe it’s ok'.
"With my hands I lifted my leg a little bit and saw it just wobble a bit down near the ankle; by that time no pain had set in.
"In my mind I was thinking about really significant people in my life at the time.
"You do start to think ‘OK, what does this mean?’, and I was probably going off thinking 'this might be it'. If you’ve done a 'Tib Fib' (tibia and fibula), you’ve done all kinds of damage.
"You’re thinking 'this is how it ends'. Not everyone can finish the way they like, so those things go through your mind."
Barlow, who played 126 games with Fremantle before moving to Gold Coast, spoke of the support he received from his former teammates.
"When it happens to you, you rationalise it all, you’re pretty calm, but other people aren’t so much," he said.
"I remember Hayden Ballantyne messaging me and saying he was in tears, and I’m like 'mate, never cry about me, you can’t take that too seriously'.
"And Tommy Sheridan, another great mate of mine from Freo was at a social event, and said he had to walk out and get some fresh air, and couldn’t be at ease with himself.
"Things like that make you really humbled that people take a real interest, not only for your football, which is secondary, but in your wellbeing.”