Bennett slowly back on his feet

May 15, 2024 1:00 pm in by
Corio star Joel Bennett. (Marcel Berens/Sports Media)

Joel Bennett has started walking again after an on-field collision that left him with three spinal fractures.

The Corio co-coach is recovering in Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital after fracturing his C1, C2 and T7 vertebrae in a marking contest in the closing stages of Saturday’s draw with Inverleigh at Shell Reserve.

Bennett’s father, Devils co-coach Darren, has told K rock Football that medical staff are seeing gradual improvements in his son.

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“Yesterday (Tuesday), he had a shower for the first time since Saturday, and the physio got him up in the chair – he hadn’t been able to move flat off his back since Saturday,” Darren said.

“Today, he’s gone for another shower, and he’s walked back from the shower. He’s taken about ten steps.

“He’s come a long way in a few days.

“From a fairly scary situation, every day we’re seeing little wins and getting closer to seeing a bit of his normal self.”

The length of Bennett’s hospital stay remains unclear. However, doctors expect the fractures to heal in 12 weeks.

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“It’s the numbness – that’s subsiding every day – we’re not sure about,” Darren said. “We’ll just take that day by day.

“As long as he keeps getting those sensations back down the left side of his body, it’s a good sign.

“He had a strength test yesterday, and he had a lot more strength in his hands and feet than he did the day before.”

The reigning Whitley medallist won’t play again this season, but Darren says that, given his son’s health, that pales into insignificance.

“We want him home and healthy before footy’s even on the radar,” he said.

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“He’s keen to get back around the boys and get into it, but we’re trying to steer him away from it a little bit and tell him to relax.

“It’s a hard thing to do.”

Darren has described the past 100 hours as “hectic”.

“As soon as he went down, I knew it was serious,” he said.

“And then you’ve got to sit there and coach the last five minutes and get your team a win.

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“But, you’re a bit stuck inside yourself knowing he’s over there in a pretty bad way.

Bennett Senior again thanked the local football community for its support, with messages coming from across the region, including Hawk Mick Grozdanovski, who was in the same contest as Joel.

“Mick has messaged Joel and feels really bad,” Darren said.

“Joel said, ‘Don’t stress. It’s just a part of footy’.

“The footy community’s been unbelievable with the messages and phone calls we’ve all had.

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“We’re really appreciative.”

X: @krockfootball