BOWRAVILLE club winger Justin Salloum is fortunate to be alive after a road rage incident which has ended his debut for the MNC Axemen in their Richardson Shield rugby union game against New England at Port Macquarie's Regional Stadium tomorrow.
Attempting to remove the keys from the ignition of a car to stop a driver who almost ran him off the Pacific Highway near Valla this week, 19-year-old Salloum was dragged almost 100 metres along a side road before falling to the roadway.
"Justin's lucky he was not killed. He was hanging out the car window when the driver threw it into reverse and went back down the road at probably 50 kilometres an hour, reversing towards the highway, swerving to throw him off," club mate Tom Aitken said on Wednesday night.
"Justin was hanging on for his life, with his feet off the ground. But when he was thrown from the car, it ran over his foot.
"It would have had broken his foot but for the fact he had been to his mechanic's course at Coffs Harbour and was wearing steel-capped boots.
"I'm pretty fast and I could not keep up with the car when he put it into reverse."
Initial fears were that Salloum had broken both legs, but scans have revealed he has torn ankle ligaments as well as hip and rib injuries.
He will not play again this season.
Salloum and Aitken are Bowraville Goanna club-mates and were to play together for the MNC Axemen against New England tomorrow in the first Richardson Shield representative game of the season's NSW Country Championship.
Returning from Coffs Harbour with five people in the car, Salloum and Aitken were overtaken and forced into the gravel by a car travelling at about 120km/h.
"He was showing off to his mates. He could have killed eight people. There were five in our car and three in his," Aitken said.
"He almost ran us into a pole at the side of the road.
"He turned off into a side road and eventually stopped when he saw us following him. He would not get out of his car so Justin tried to take the key out of his ignition.
"That's when he slammed his car into reverse and started weaving back down the road to throw him off."
Although only two seasons old, the Bowraville Goannas have done wonders to have Lynch, Aitken and winger Morgan Dek in the run-on !MNC side with hooker Nigel Auld and, until his accident, winger Salloum on the reserves bench.
At this stage, a replacement player for Salloum has not been named.