LIAM Knight spent nearly a month in a medically induced coma after his skull was pierced by a metal rod, allegedly thrown by a party gatecrasher.
Yesterday, flanked by some of his favourite Manly Sea Eagles players, the sharp-witted teenager joked that he may have awoken with "special powers".
Manly players Ben Farrar, Justine Horo, and Kieran Foran assisting Liam Knight to walk / Pic: Craig Greenhill Source: The Daily Telegraph
"You know how some people wake up from comas and can do things they couldn't do before. Maybe I'm now going to be a pro surfer," he said, with the familiar smile that his family know and love.
Seven weeks after the horrific incident at a friend's 18th birthday party at Forestville, on Sydney's northern beaches, Liam's family is amazed by his powers of recovery. His doctors had feared he might not survive.
Yesterday, as he continued his treatment at Ryde Rehabilitation Centre and received a surprise visit from NRL stars Kieran Foran, Ben Farrar and Justin Horo, the 17-year-old's cheeky sense of humour was there for all to see - and enjoy.
"I might just have to build my arms up a bit," he said of running out for Manly as he put on the jersey the players brought with them.
"I did play league for nine years, for the (Forestville) Ferrets."
After getting up from his motorised wheelchair and walking along a veranda at the rehab centre, he joked with his new mates.
"Just give me a bit more time and I'll be able to do this without you," he quipped.
"Is that enough now? I think I'll have the chair back."
Liam moved from Royal North Shore Hospital this week to begin the next stage in his recovery.
Each day is filled with intensive physiotherapy and specialised programs. When he's not doing the serious stuff, Liam said he gets back to "important business".
"You would not believe how many chicks have added me on Facebook since my accident," he said.
"And I accept all of them. I mean, why not. I'm going to make this work for me."
His mother Mary said the best thing about his recovery so far was that her son has not lost his personality since the incident.
"He's talking and he's the old Liam we knew. The rest will catch up," she said.
On a serious note, doctors marvel at Liam's progress.
His memory improves every day, he can pedal up to 4km on a stationery bike and walk with assistance.
He is regaining movement in the right side of his body, which trails his left side slightly. "I feel awesome, I really do," he said.
"They reckon I'll be here (at rehab) for a few months, but I'm planning on being back at school for term two, so that's pretty soon."
Besides, if he doesn't leave rehab soon, Liam fears he will become socially isolated.
"At Royal North Shore, one day I had 30 people there. It's too far to come over here. Royal North Shore was great, it was just two stops on the bus from school," he said.
Liam's schoolmates at St Pius X College Chatswood have rallied behind him since January 11, the night he was injured. They have helped raise more than $15,000 to help with the costs of his ongoing care.
School captain and friend Billy Johnson said the whole school community had thrown its support behind their mate.
"It's almost second nature to help out our mate," he said.
Last night, students from the school formed a guard of honour at the Super XV rugby match between the NSW Waratahs and the Melbourne Rebels.
About 40 boys took part in the line-up, as the Waratahs and Rebels players ran out on to the field at Alliance Stadium.
Former St Pius student and Waratahs star Michael Hooper and Rebels player Luke Jones both know the Knight family.
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