The Sydney rugby player who survived a run-in with a deadly flesh-eating bacteria made a miraculous playing return in club rugby yesterday.

Less than four months after a try-saving tackle led to a life-or-death battle with necrotising fasciitis, former Australian Sevens representative Henry Clunies-Ross returned in second grade for Sydney University and was named as a replacement in the club’s first-grade match against Warringah at Rat Park.

His right shin, which was sliced open when he hit and upended a corner post on an oval at Sydney University in early April, was heavily padded. But the winger was delighted to have taken the first step in returning to normal life.

“I was definitely nervous and I’m a bit scared of corner posts too now, I go and check them before the game,” Clunies-Ross said.

“I thought that my season was over. It’s great to be back.

“Some conservative surgeons said it was over but some were supportive of me making it back.

“I guess none of our physios and doctors had ever seen it before so they didn’t have advice at all. I was just like ‘I’m running so I’ll have a go’.”

Clunies-Ross endured five surgeries, the “nuclear bomb of antibiotics” and regular spells in a hyperbaric chamber to kill off the bacteria. He needed a large skin graft from his upper leg to patch up the gaping wound in his shin.

ut on Saturday he looked like any other, heavily strapped footy player, even if the strapping hid a solid protective shield.

“There’s a little shin pad, a bit of padding and a lot of strapping. It’s now the most protected part of my body so it’s very safe,” he said.

Warringah beat Sydney University 22-21 to cement top spot on the Shute Shield ladder.