Heartland rugby star Brogan Watt is set to walk down the aisle just four months after his loved ones were told he had a slim chance of surviving an on-field head injury.

Watt, 24, almost died after being injured in West Coast's provincial clash against Poverty Bay on October 1. Instead, he's made a miraculous recovery.

Paramedics who examined him on the field initially thought Watt had a concussion, but the prognosis turned out to be much worse after he complained of feeling ill post-game.

He was helicoptered to Christchurch Hospital, diagnosed with a brain bleed and had emergency surgery to remove half his skull that evening.


The doctors who were treating him told Watt's loved ones the odds of him surviving were slim.

"They said it was about a 20 per cent chance of making it once I hit the operating table in Christchurch," Watt said.

But despite the devastating prognosis, Watt's partner of eight years, Emma Bone, 23, who he met at secondary school in Greymouth, was determined to stay positive.

Bone said it was tough to comprehend her partner's plight after his life-threatening injury.

"It kind of feels like it didn't really happen," she said. "I just knew that I had to be real positive and keep strong. I knew he was going to be all good."

West Coast Rugby Player Brogan Watt. Photo / Bill Phillips
West Coast Rugby Player Brogan Watt. Photo / Bill Phillips

Her positive outlook has paid off. Not only has he made an incredible recovery, the pair will wed on the shores of Lake Brunner - near Greymouth - on February 10.

"We weren't originally planning on getting married so soon," Watt told the Herald on Sunday.

"Then after the head knock I was in hospital and I had a fair bit of time on my hands and one day Emma came in and saw me like she did everyday and I just said to her 'Why don't we get married soon?'"


They got engaged on holiday in Fiji two and a half years ago.

"Everything is locked in and sorted already," Watt said.

"We have grand plans to buy a house but after the price of the wedding, it might set us back a little."

As the wedding day nears, Watt has spoken of his incredible survival and recovery. He was in a coma in Christchurch Hospital for a week after surgery.

"The first memory I had was from the previous weekend," he said.

"I couldn't really believe it when the doctor was telling me. Emma and my Dad were there and the doctor said 'You've been here for a week' and was explaining what happened. I just didn't believe I'd been asleep for a week."

He said his recovery had also left doctors stunned.

"A few of them have definitely said it's amazing how fast I've recovered, I think they're just happy that I did.

"When I was in the coma, before I woke, they made it clear to my family and to Emma that when I woke I could be like a completely different person or I could not remember any of them. Luckily I haven't had anything like that. [My] memory's always been pretty good.

"I was pretty lucky. They sent me to a rehab place, but I only stayed there for two days and ended up going home. I haven't really had any symptoms or differences, which they sort of expected to happen. It was a bit of a fluke really."

After a few more weeks in hospital Watt was discharged. He spent about three weeks recuperating at home before returning in early December for another operation to put the piece of his skull that was removed back in.

Last Monday Watt returned to work.

He credited the support he has received from his loved ones, his employer Isaacs Construction, and Lisa Kingi-Bon from the New Zealand Rugby Foundation for his rapid recovery.

"[Kingi-Bon] has gone above and beyond for my family," he said.

"My family are obviously from the Coast and when they came over that night to Christchurch she had already heard about from the head of the West Coast rugby union and sorted out accomodation for my parents for the three weeks they were over here.

"They didn't have to pay a cent for anything like that. It just took a huge stress off my family at the time."​