Former Hull FC and Salford forward Jansin Turgut proved to himself that he is capable of returning to the Super League after playing for Turkey in the annual Gallipoli Cup clash with the ADF – less than three years after a life-threatening fall from a car park in Ibiza.
Turgut broke every bone in his face, both legs, his pelvis, hip, wrist, fractured his lower back, shattered both knee caps and spent a month in a coma following the third story fall in 2019 but is now being pursued by English clubs.
The 26-year-old, who resumed playing at amateur level two months ago after being given the all clear by specialists, has regained his love for the game but was unsure if he was ready for the step up before the curtain-raiser to the ANZAC Day clash between the Dragons and Roosters.
After playing in the 26-6 loss to an impressive Australian Defence Force team at the SCG on Monday, Turgut now believes his goal of playing at Super League level again is achievable.
“I have had some interest from some semi-professional clubs in the Championship clubs and League One, but I am just enjoying my life and playing rugby league again,” Turgut told NRL.com.
“I fell out of love with rugby league - I didn’t enjoy the game, I didn’t enjoy my life. My lifestyle at the time wasn’t very good and my mental wellbeing wasn’t very good.
“I have managed to turn that all around now and I feel that I am heading in the right direction to get my rugby league back on track. I have gone and got a trade, and I am enjoying paying to play again at an amateur level.
“I think getting a lot of game time and mileage in the legs is good and hopefully some clubs will come sniffing again. I would love to be at a Super League club again and I have definitely got aspirations to do that and go all the way.”
Turgut said he had only recently considered playing league again and was surprised to receive an approach from Turkey about making the trip from England to Australia for the match against the ADF.
The second-rower was one of four players from Europe to play in a Turkish team comprising mostly of Australian-based players, who improved significantly on last year’s 46-0 loss to the ADF.
“It was not even a year ago that I started doing some fitness,” Turgut said. “As soon as the doctor gave me the all-clear that was all I needed to hear.
“I joined West Hull doing coaching and then I started training half a session, here and there, and building it up. I played 20 minutes for West Hull and then 50 minutes, and I was playing full games before I knew it.
“About a month ago I got called up and asked if I was willing to come over and play before the Roosters-Dragons game on ANZAC Day. I said, ‘count me in, I’m there’.
“Obviously my family have supported me, and my girlfriend. I said I would do it and take my chance. We came up second best, but the boys dug in and we shortened the scoreline from last year.
“We have only been together for a week and everyone gave 100 per cent. To be back on the pitch playing at international level is an amazing feeling.
“I have shocked myself that I have been able to do it and I am so happy and proud of myself and thankful to everyone who supported me along the way.”
During his intense rehabilitation, Turgut admits he doubted he would ever be able to play again – let alone at the elite or international level.
Players from across the game, including his former Salford team-mate Jackson Hastings - the current Wests Tigers halfback - helped to raise funds to aid his recovery.
“Both my kneecaps were shattered, I broke my legs, I had broken my pelvis in half, I broke the bottom of my spine, I broke my hip, I broke my left wrist and I broke every bone in my face so I am plated up with metal and screws,” he said.
“During the rehab, the pain was so severe I had to take medication. I kept building it up until I could do rehab a couple of times a week and then every day with the right movement patterns and a lot of stretching.
“It was tough and at certain points I felt like stopping. I thought it was too unobtainable and I didn’t think I would be able to push through it and be myself again.
“It was definitely physically and mentally challenging at times. It took two-to-three years of just doing the same thing repetitively. It was hard work, but every single second has been worth it.
“Physically and mentally, I feel as good as I was before. I have learned a lot of lessons and hopefully I can go forward helping other people as well, so that they don’t make the same mistakes.”
Turgut also wants to help put the game on the map in Turkey, whose men’s team are ranked 19th in the world and women’s team are ranked 11th, according to the latest IRL ranking released last December.
Besides Canberra forward Emre Guler, Leeds halfback Aidan Sezer and Wakefield prop Yusuf Aydin, Turgut is the highest profile Turkish player in the game.
“There may be some others playing who we don’t know about because it hasn’t been publicised,” he said.
“Hopefully we can make rugby league a recognised sport in Turkey because it will be a massive thing for Turkey. I feel immensely proud to be able to represent Turkey at international level again.”
If you or anyone else is struggling with mental health, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.