Magpies' Howe moves on from horror break as finals loom

Jeremy Howe only needs to look at the scars on his left arm to remember the worst pain of his life.

Less than six months after suffering a gruesome forearm compound fracture when landing awkwardly from a marking contest gone wrong, Collingwood's high-flying defender still shudders at the memory.

The sight of his broken arm was bad enough. The pain was another thing altogether. 

"Worst by a mile," Howe told AAP, reflecting on his injury record. 

"My knee (injury in 2020) was really bad, it was horrific. But this was 10 times worse in terms of the pain. I've never experienced anything like it. 

"It takes a lot for me to cry in terms of pain, and I was a weeping mess the whole way through. 

"I was shuddering, my whole body was shuddering for half an hour. 

"It was pretty traumatic at the time."

But the trauma didn't end with surgery.

Less than two weeks after his arm was knitted back together, an infection set everything back.

"Especially early days, I didn't think there was a chance that I would get back and play," Howe admitted. 

"I don't know if I was contemplating retiring at the time but when I ended up in hospital with the infection, I certainly contemplated it. 

"Because I'm 33, I just don't need this kind of trauma, in terms of the injury, at this stage in my life.

"But the way we mapped out a plan going forward it was like, 'I'm going to respect the injury, let it heal and give it every chance of what it needs to'.

"Not with the intent to return as quickly as I could but probably more so for the future. I just want to be fit and healthy when I leave the game."

Howe's recovery took off and he returned against Adelaide in round 15.

He has now played 10 games back in the side and will face former club Melbourne in Thursday's qualifying final at the MCG.

"Getting over the the trauma side of getting myself in similar scenarios, the physicality of the game, that was the thing that we had to tick off and that took a little bit longer than probably everything else," he said.

"I was never going to put myself in a scenario where I flip upside down in training and just try and do a handstand. 

"But in the Gold Coast game I came through the middle of the ground, squeezed up on (Ben) Ainsworth, jumped over his back, punched it and flipped straight upside down, did like a barrel roll and rolled out like I was probably meant to. 

"At that moment, I was like, 'That could have been the exact same thing' but ultimately it wasn't."

Howe's stellar return has wowed his teammates.

"It's one of the most remarkable stories I've seen in my whole footy career," defender Brayden Maynard told AAP.

Now, Howe can dare to dream of using that once-shattered arm to lift football's greatest prize.

"It would be everything," he said.

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