Nick Scruton was devastated when forced into early retirement last year but what has tragically happened to his former team-mates Rob Burrow and Mose Masoe since has left him realising just how fortunate he is.
It was in May that Scruton, the Hull KR prop – who won the 2008 Grand Final with hometown Leeds Rhinos – hung up his boots after finally succumbing to a chronic shoulder injury.
Scruton went through all the emotions so many players do in that situation as it dawned on him a career that had also seen him raise the World Club Challenge after overcoming mighty Melbourne Storm, was over.
The popular forward, who also represented Bradford Bulls with great distinction, was aged 34 but still had plenty to give.
Instead of preparing for the new season, though, which starts on Friday when Rovers host his other former club Wakefield Trinity, he has been working on building sites learning the skills needed to be an electrician.
Still, as events unfolded elsewhere, Scruton’s mindset altered dramatically. Rhinos legend Burrow, who was alongside him at Old Trafford in 2008, was diagnosed with the incurable and fatal motor neurone disease before Christmas.
Then, just over a fortnight ago, Hull KR prop Masoe, 30, was told his career was over and it is not yet known if he will ever walk again after suffering a shocking spinal injury in a friendly at Wakefield.
The rugby league world has, as ever, enveloped the stricken pair with its love and support. Has the devastating news made Scruton re-think his own position?
He told The Yorkshire Post: “I have thought about that 100 per cent. And my wife Alice said, selfishly, the first thing she thought with Rob and Mose was there’s always someone worse off.
“I’d just been on a job and been told it’d be our last week on it. I came home fuming.
“Then you find out something like what happened... You soon realise things aren’t that bad. My shoulder gets a bit sore now and again but I get to come home to my family every day. And then after what happened to Mose, Alice said she’s just glad that I’m finished. She doesn’t have to worry about me and injuries.
“I don’t have to put my body on the line week in, week out. She knows I’m safe and sound, tucked in with my family.”
Scruton added: “I had some good times with Rob and Mose; both are completely different kinds of blokes but two of the nicest people you could ever meet.
“There really is no bad in either of them; Mose is one of the biggest blokes around but actually a gentle giant and both have such nice families who they are utterly devoted to.
“It’s just heartbreaking to see what they are both going through.”
Scruton has some experience of seeing the horrendous effects of MND given Mark Burgess – father of his former Leeds team-mate Luke – died from the disease in 2007.
He later played alongside Sam and Tom Burgess at Bradford and said: “Until you know somebody it’s happened to, people don’t tend to know what it is really like.
“Before their dad got it, I knew nothing about the condition.
“I’m big friends with all the Burgess lads and to see them go through that was awful. To know Rob will go through the same, I have had sleepless nights thinking about it.
“How Rob and Mose are tackling these things head on is inspirational to everyone and it is no surprise how amazing the fundraising for them continues to be.”
Scruton played with Burrow at Leeds from 2002 to 2008 and had lined up with Masoe in Robins colours for the previous three years.
“I must have watched the footage of that Mose tackle about 50 times trying to figure out what’s happened,” he said.
“He is one of the toughest players I know and I think that’s why this has happened; he’s got an artificial vertebrae in his neck.
“That sounds like a career-ending injury for most but he had that years ago and carried on playing. Mose is one of the toughest people I’ve played with; he gets injured and just gets on with it.
“He dislocated his shoulder in one game with KR but played on and got it fixed. We thought he’d be out for months but he said he didn’t feel too bad and played on the next week.
“He’s just one of those people but unfortunately it looks like it’s caught up with him; it’s an absolutely nothing tackle but I think that’s one of those plastic vertebrae in his neck that’s given way.
“I couldn’t believe it when I saw the footage and how he just dropped like he did. It was not nice to watch. Mose is one of those people who is an eternal optimist, no matter what.
“We had some tough times at KR and he’d come into training with a smile on his face and took the positive out of everything.
“It looks like he’s battling this with a smile on his face as well, trying to find the positives, staying tough, staying strong and both him and Rob are complete inspirations.”
Scruton says he and Leeds forward James Donaldson – a former Robins and Bulls team-mate – are due to visit Masoe in hospital shortly.
Meanwhile, as he continues with his own life post-rugby, he maintains there is no chance of him stepping out on the field again.
“I had the surgery to put the shoulder right – or as best as the surgeon could – but that came at a cost,” said Scruton.
“I wouldn’t be able to play rugby again. I’ve had so many amateur and semi-pro clubs asking me if I fancy a game.
“They must think I just got bored and retired for the fun of it.
“But I retired as I had to.”