The West Coast Eagles forward was flying to Adelaide for a game against the Crows, and was feeling the effects of what he thought was gastro.

“The plumbing wasn’t very good for a couple of days there,” Waterman told the ABC.

“It wasn’t to the point where I wasn’t able to leave home, I was able be comfortable and sort of train and whatnot, I just had to keep an eye out.

“When I started panicking was when I was getting real nauseous, and started vomiting and whatnot.”

The 25-year old spoke to the Eagles doctors and withdrew from the clash with Adelaide and flew home, where it had become clear he wasn’t suffering from a run-of-the-mill illness.

“‘I’ve had bouts of gastro and food poisoning stuff before and it was a little bit different, because I wasn’t as as sick but I had these lingering symptoms,” Waterman said.

“I flew home from the Adelaide game and the next day, the next morning I felt okay and I thought, well I might have got through whatever it was.

“Then that night and then the next morning was no good, couldn’t sleep, was sick, had all the symptoms that someone would expect for someone with a bit of IBD [inflammatory bowel disease].”

He went to hospital, and spent 10 days getting treated. He can’t remember the first few days.

“I was just so out of it. I was nowhere,” he said.

“I probably spent most of it sleeping, in tremendous amounts of pain.”

Specialists started searching for what was causing his IBD, with Waterman eventually diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, an auto-immune condition which causes inflammation of the lower parts of the digestive system.

“Once we found out that, it was straight onto medication and how we can get you feeling better in the short term, and then with also having an eye on the long term, what that’s going to look like,” he said.

“[I had to] allow my body to catch up physically and also mentally as well. And just get myself in a position where, you know, I was symptom free, not just for a few days, but for weeks, maybe even a month, and then go forward from then.

“When I got back to training, when I would feel a symptom, I just stopped then and there.

“I wouldn’t push through any pain, I just stopped and called it a day and just be like, I’ve got a symptom after this, how’s my preparation?”