Demons star Christian Petracca has spoken of his ordeal since being injured on June 10. Image by James Ross/AAP PHOTOS
  • Australian rules football

Like a car crash: Petracca opens up on horror injuries

Justin Chadwick June 17, 2024

Star Melbourne midfielder Christian Petracca has opened up on his horrific internal injuries, saying they were the equivalent of a car crash and he had to undergo surgery without a general anaesthetic.

And Petracca says he’s still so traumatised, he’s struggling to watch games of football and picture himself back out on the field due to the memories that come flooding back.

Petracca suffered four broken ribs, a lacerated spleen and a punctured lung after copping an accidental knee from Collingwood skipper Darcy Moore during the King’s Birthday clash on June 10.

 Christian Petracca exits the field after being injured. Image by James Ross/AAP PHOTOS 

He bravely tried to play on, but was eventually taken to hospital where the severity of the injuries was discovered.

Petracca has already been ruled out for the rest of the AFL season, and he faces a long and slow build to prepare his body and mind for 2025.

“It’s been pretty traumatic,” Petracca told NOVA on Monday. 

“I did 4-5 days in ICU, and then last couple days was just in the ward, and now I’m out of hospital, which is nice. 

“It’s been pretty full on, I don’t wish this on my worst enemy, it’s been tough.”

Petracca opened up on the dramatic turn of events that landed him in ICU.

“We got an initial scan around eight or nine o’clock at night, and the first scan showed two cracked ribs and then just a little bit of bleeding around the lung,” he said.

“I think 15 minutes later, one of the doctors was just checking my blood levels, and noticed my haemoglobin was dropping severely, and my blood levels were dropping. 

“So they go, ‘Let’s just do another scan’. And that’s when they started to notice I had four cracked ribs, the grade-five spleen and a punctured lung too.

“So it went from being a four out of 10 to basically a 10 out of 10, it was the equivalent of a car accident.”

AFL players regularly undergo surgery for all types of different ailments, but what Petracca went through was on a whole different level.

“I had to go straight into surgery at 2am. Open surgery – like I wasn’t under anaesthetic because of my blood level was so low,” he said.

“(They) numbed the area and put me under a gas mask. But those gas masks only do so much. 

“You can still feel it. It’s pretty traumatic.”

Petracca doesn’t hold any ill feelings towards Moore for the incident.

“No malice in it whatsoever,” Petracca said of the marking contest. 

“He’s messaged me four or five times. He messaged me saying, ‘I’m going to owe you dinner’, so I said, ‘I’ll take you up on that’.”

Petracca is struggling to picture himself back on the football field at present. 

“It’s still raw for me, it’s still seven days,” he said.

“I watched a little bit of footy in the weekend and I had to turn it off because when you see even a simple tackle, you just put yourself back in the situation that you were. 

“But no doubt, with the recovery process and everything that I’ll be able to tick off and my mindset, I’ll be able to get back to the player I was. 

“Just, at the moment, it’s a lot of self-doubt. That’s just the human feeling of course.”

Petracca thanked his partner Bella for her support through the ordeal.

“I’m literally not allowed to do anything,” he said.

“The spleen is a vital part of the immune system, so I had to get all my vaccinations done again. 

“Bell’s had to do everything – put me to bed, put my socks on, give me all my medication, cook me dinner.”

Petracca isn’t allowed to run or go to the gym for the next seven weeks.

He can’t fly for six weeks, and is not allowed to do contact sport for three months.