Western Bulldogs defender Dale Morris says he'll always be thankful for the support Fremantle's Michael Barlow provided as he recovered from a broken leg.
Morris will tonight play his first match since he was injured in round 21, 2011.
He originally thought he'd be able to play early in 2012, but those plans were shelved when he felt pain during the first term of a VFL reserves match in April.
That pain turned out to be a stress fracture and his year was over.
Throughout the turmoil Barlow gave him perspective.
The Fremantle on-baller broke a leg in round 14, 2010, didn't return to the AFL until round 13, 2011 and still experienced pain for another year.
Barlow received support from other broken leg victims and Morris said he had followed in their footsteps.
"When I had the injury, Barlow from Freo and Garry Lyon (Melbourne great) contacted me straight away," Morris said.
"To hear their story and what they went through and the things they needed to do and how successful they were (was good).
"Barlow is still playing and Garry played the next season. That was really helpful in building my confidence back up.
"I got texts from him (Barlow) quite a bit early days. Now, every now and then, we exchange texts.
"I just can't wait to get out there and we can compare notes a little bit later."
Morris broke his leg against Essendon and will make his return against the same club at the same venue, Etihad Stadium.
The 30-year-old said he felt like a young player preparing for his first taste of AFL.
"I'm full of nerves, a lot of excitement, going through all the team meetings getting sweaty hands," he said.