Leeds Carnegie centre James Tincknell has revealed England star Jonny Wilkinson was among his many well-wishers during a continuing recovery from a life-threatening car crash.
Tincknell was honoured by the Rugby Players' Association when he received the Blyth Spirit Award in London on Wednesday night. The 22-year-old was taken to hospital by air ambulance and spent three weeks in a drug-induced coma following the accident, which happened three months ago.
"I can't remember anything of the accident," he said. "All I remember is getting up in the morning and getting into my car. I can't thank everyone enough - I really can't believe how much everyone cared. I am not sure why I'm getting the award, I think I should be giving it to everyone else for looking after me."
He added: "Jonny Wilkinson sent me a letter. I couldn't believe it - it was so kind of him. He was my idol growing up, so it meant so much."
Leeds Carnegie physiotherapist Charlie Steggles will now have a major role in Tincknell's recovery, and she said: "We are taking our time and building things up slowly.
"We're being practical about what he's got to get back to, but it's nothing too strenuous at this stage.
"He's just generally getting stronger, so he is able to lift a little bit more weight, do slightly more complex movements and just relearning some of the more complex lifts.
"He is doing really really well. He keeps surprising us. Every time I write a programme I have to go and rewrite it again that night, so he's pushing us pretty hard, which is brilliant."