When Mitch Wallis went down in the fourth quarter of the Western Bulldogs' loss to St Kilda on Saturday night, sideline commentator Cameron Mooney immediately said something to the effect of: "Wallis is in trouble boys."

No one knew at the time just how right Mooney was.

The 23-year-old horrifically broke his leg in two places. Under pressure from Saint Shane Savage in the middle of the ground, Wallis went to kick, but the tackle caused him to miss the Sherrin altogether and his right foot smashed into the back of his left ankle - fracturing both his tibia and fibula.

The midfielder was in agony. He was screaming out and play had to be stopped for several minutes as a stretcher and medi-cab made their way onto the ground to take him off.

Advertisement

The sight of his lower left leg going floppy at the point of impact was enough to make any viewer's stomach churn.

But while the scenes on the Etihad turf were hard to watch, it was inside the Dogs' changeroom where the pain hit hardest.

AFL 360 producer Tim Hodges was inside the rooms when the players came in following the game, and speaking to ABC Grandstand, struggled to hold back tears as he described the heartbreaking nature of what he witnessed in the inner sanctum.

So bad was Wallis' condition team officials tried to keep his teammates in a separate part of the dressing room so they wouldn't have to hear the injured star's howls of anguish.

"It's heartbreaking in here, I've never seen anything like it," Hodges said. "I'm standing with (Fox Footy analyst) David King and he said he's never seen anything like it.

"They've just wheeled Mitch Wallis out on the stretcher and he is screaming. They were keeping the players in the coach's room so they didn't hear it but they all came out and every player is crying.

"(Injured Bulldogs captain) Bob Murphy is weeping uncontrollably.

"This is going to set the Bulldogs back in the final month-and-a-half before September. I've never seen anything like this."

Wallis' family was by the youngster's side. How they managed seeing their loved one in so much pain is anyone's guess.

One by one, the Bulldogs clan broke down in tears.

"Bob Murphy's wife, Justine, she was with Mitch's family," Hodges said. "They were trying to get him, with (football director) Chris Grant, on to the stretcher to get him into the ambulance to get him away before the players saw him so they could beat the traffic.

"Unfortunately they couldn't get him out in time and the players have just had to come in and see that.

"They tried to usher all the players away from him in the coaching room because he was screaming uncontrollably.

"Haunting scenes and sounds but unfortunately all the players had to walk past him and they came out of the meeting just so they could offer him some support.

"Once one player went with tears they all went. It's absolutely gut-wrenching being down here."

Despite not being there, you only had to listen to Hodges' voice cracking as he at times struggled to get the words out to get an idea of just how emotional the night was.

Wallis took to social media on Monday to let everyone know surgery on the leg went well, but he is still looking at a possible 12 months out of the game.

The AFL community sent its well-wishes on Twitter.

Wallis' injury even made its way to America, where it was reported on by the New York Post.

Speaking after the match - which claimed another victim in Bulldog Jack Redpath (out for the season with a ruptured ACL) - coach Luke Beveridge said the whole affair was "devastating".

"It is a devastating night for many reasons," Beveridge said. "There's a lot of emotion in that room down there.

"In all football clubs the players are tight. Ours is no different. They're really hurting.

"They're really feeling it for Mitch and his family and also for Red and his family."

However, he said everyone at the club had to find a way to move forward.

"By the end of Tuesday when we walk out of the building at the club, we've got to be ready to move on," Beveridge said.

"We've put too much work in to let it fall by the wayside.

"How receptive to that kind of message our players are tonight, I couldn't tell you.

"But this is a challenge. It's a traumatic night and it'll test us."

The sickening incident revived memories of Nathan Brown's infamous broken leg suffered while playing for Richmond in 2005. He also broke his fibia and tibula after attempting to kick in the face of a smother.

So he knows just how hard it is to come back from an injury like Wallis'. While Brown did return to the AFL, he admitted he was never the player he was after rushing his comeback.

"The only thing I'd say to Mitch Wallis is you're a young kid, you've got a lot of time. Don't try and rush it," Brown told the Nine Network on Sunday.

"Everybody told me not to rush it. I did and I was probably never the same player."

While everyone can see just how severe Wallis' injury was, what we won't see is the aftermath - the days and nights spent at home, unable to go anywhere or do anything.

Brown said this was undoubtedly the hardest challenge Wallis will face.

"Hospital is the easy part ... when you get home that's the real hard part," Brown said.

"Because you can't move your leg, you can't put it down anywhere. You can't lift it up.

"So you're in bed for probably the next two weeks. I remember every night for probably two or three weeks, just sweating profusely during the night because of the painkillers.

"You just lay there in a wet bed."

Brown recalled his own experience involving "unbelievable pain, you think the world is going to end.

"Then it just subsides for a little bit ... and it's almost like shock takes over your body."

Wallis is expected to spend a week in hospital before being discharged.

-News.com.au