Ryan James's 2014 NRL season will be confined to just 135 minutes of game-time as the towering Titans front-rower prepares for season-ending surgery on his troublesome left shoulder.
Touted as a Blues Origin prospect after a strong finish to 2013 and a pre-season that saw him reach fitness levels never before attained in his five-year NRL career to date, James's season was on tenterhooks from Gold Coast's opening trial game against the Warriors and he went on to make just four appearances in the top grade.
A regulation hit-up from a kick-off against the Warriors went wrong when former Titans under-20s team-mate Dominique Peyroux put a shot on that rattled his left shoulder, his season from hell culminating with a partial dislocation of that same shoulder while playing for Tweed Heads in the Intrust Super Cup last weekend.
The third separate injury to the left shoulder came about when his arm was flung backwards when putting kick pressure on the Burleigh kicker and gave him little choice than to undergo surgery and subsequent three month recovery.
"It's been four different shoulder injuries. I'd get one good and then hurt it again and then it kept getting better then getting worse so I'll be happy to go and get the surgery and then work my butt off to get ready for the start of pre-season," said James, who appeared in four Intrust Super Cup games for Tweed Heads this year.
"I was good until I got the call [to come off] and then I tried to out on a bit of kick pressure, stuck my arm out and it just happened to get reefed all the way back and then the arm just had that numb sensation and I couldn't feel it."
Titans physiotherapist Greg Condon has been monitoring James's progress for much of the season and said that the surgery on July 7 will entail a minor shoulder reconstruction to tighten the capsular ligament located at the front of the shoulder.
"He's been really unlucky. Essentially he's had three separate injuries; he had some bone bruising and then he had a small cartilage tear in his shoulder which he could play on with to an extent and then the last game he played he essentially had a partial dislocation and stretched out the capsular [ligament] at the front of his shoulder," Condon explained.
"With those two, the cartilage tear and the capsular stretch together, he probably needs to have something done about that now."
While there is some good news on the injury front with Albert Kelly looking likely to play for Tweed Heads in the Intrust Super Cup this weekend and five-eighth Aidan Sezer ahead of schedule for a return before the end of the regular season, Gold Coast co-captain Greg Bird admitted that it was disappointing they didn't get to see the best of James in 2014.
"He was really coming of age as a player last season and had some of his best games against some big-name players," Bird said. "He really took it to the Roosters and they had pretty much an international pack down there and this had been earmarked as a breakthrough season for him.
"It's been unfortunate that he's had shoulder injury after shoulder injury to start this year and it's a shame we're going to lose him for the rest of the season."