A young player who found out he had a brain tumour after getting knocked out in a rugby match has resigned himself to the fact he might never play the sport again.
However, Curtis Barrett has found a new physical programme to fill the void and is calling on his friends from the world of rugby to help support it.
Around a year ago Curtis, 24, got involved with Crossfit through Clic Sargent, a UK charity for children and young people battling cancer.
He said: “Crossfit is functional fitness. It’s basically competitive exercise, gymnatics movements, weightlifting movements and cardio where you’re scored on how many reps you can do in a certain amount of time.
“I found out about Clic Sargent’s Move Forward exercise programme last November after a chance meeting in a burrito bar.
“The programme was set up by Simon Darby who is my social worker through Clic Sargent.
“A couple of us excelled at the programme and now we’re involved in competition. I’m onto my fourth competition now.”
The head injury Curtis sustained in a match for Instonians alerted doctors to the fact that he had a potentially life-threatening brain tumour.
If his cancer had gone undetected and untreated, Curtis could have suffered a massive seizure and possibly even died.
Curtis, who grew up in Newtownabbey and now lives in south Belfast, said getting knocked out during that rugby match undoubtedly saved his life, but he knows his cancer could return at some point in the future.
He has a tattoo as a permanent reminder of those life-changing events.
Asked if he had given up on playing rugby, he said: “I went back to rugby training but I couldn’t play rugby any more. I was just doing the training and standing out when it came to contact.
“The possibilities are very unlikely that I’ll play rugby again.
“Crossfit keeps me happy. You get the deep sweat on. When I’m with my team, it’s very like rugby. You have to dig deep for your team.”
The fundraising event Curtis has organised at Crossfit HQ at Weaver’s Court in Belfast on November 24 is for rugby clubs in NI to compete and raise money for Clic Sergeant to promote the Move Forward programme.