Learning to walk again is just the latest hurdle in Toby Popple’s desire to return to refereeing.
Popple had his right leg amputated after complications stemming from a car accident in February.
The up and coming Group Nine referee has under gone 14 operations since then, including the amputation below the knee, after the onset of compartment syndrome.
He has just been fitted with a prosthesis which he hopes will see him able to return to the Group Nine referee ranks.
Despite the long road to recovery, Popple has never given up hope of returning to the middle.
Now that he has the prosthesis the 21-year-old has set his sights on being able to referee again in two years.
“I’d love to be able be run around and we’re just trying to work out the possibilities of it now,” Popple said.
“I’ll definitely be able to get a flag (as touch judge) but the goal is the grab the whistle and get back into the middle for first grade one day.”
The accident at work changed his life.
Popple and partner Georgia had just welcomed daughter Ivey into the world but he’s been in and out of hospital ever since.
While thrilled to be back up on two feet he likens his recovery to that of a child.
“It is sorta like watching a kid try to walk,” he said.
“There is a few times there you take that step and you start to fall over, loose your balance and you’re wobbling around like a little kid.
“It is different as I got used to being on one foot and finding the centre of gravity there and now I have to re-find the centre of gravity and get used to being able to put weight through.
“You don’t put weight through where you knee is usually so I’m trying adapt to that, get used to it and be confident enough to start running around.”
Popple was named Group Nine Referee of the Year in 2015 and has received plenty of support from the rugby league community.
To help assist him a trivia night will be held on August 11 where a number of signed football jumpers will be auctioned.
Group Nine referees has also declared round 16 as Toby Popple Round and donate some or all of their match fees from the weekend.