Bulldogs five-eighth Josh Reynolds says he is unlikely to take part in the upcoming Auckland Nines weekend and All Stars game, joining a growing list of NRL stars preserving their bodies for the premiership season.
The NSW Origin five-eighth is the latest in a string of players, including Eels hooker Nathan Peats and Penrith halfback Peter Wallace, who remain on the road to recovery following major surgeries in the off-season.
Reynolds reasoned that his main priority was getting himself right for the club's season-opener.
"It's one of those things. You just want to get it right," he told NRL.com. "They'd be great things to be a part of. I missed it last year, the Nines. And I've never been a part of the All Stars. I don't think I'd be a chance but it'd be a good concept to be a part of. A bit unlucky but that's injuries, that's footy."
Reynolds aggravated a left shoulder injury in his first tackle of last October's grand final loss to South Sydney, and was given a one-week break before undergoing surgery and extensive rehab.
"Yeah, only the one week off for Hokko's bucks in Bali then straight back into it. But that's all part of it, trying to think ahead to next year," he said.
"The only bad thing is not being out on the field with the boys and being in the rehab crew instead. It's a bit depressing sometimes, although we've actually got a couple of boys like Hokko [Trent Hodkinson] and B-Moz [Brett Morris] in there with me which makes it all right.
"I'm definitely going to be back on the field by mid-January, or maybe a bit later. Round 1's the aim."
It's the second straight pre-season the 25-year-old will miss after having the same operation on his right shoulder last summer, but he did return in time for the season kick-off.
"I got my other one done last year so it's a bit easier this time around because I know what to expect. It's come along really well actually, the physios are really happy with it," he said.
"It's pretty much the same injury, just on the other side. I know I'm going to get skinny and that the body's going to take a beating, but eventually you get it back."
Reynolds played in all three games for NSW in their drought-breaking series victory against Queensland this year, but the Bulldogs junior said safeguarding his body for next year's campaign was far from his mind.
"I didn't think about it last year and I'm going to do the same thing again," he said. "That's out of my hands. I've just got to turn up for the Bulldogs in Round 1, ready to play consistent footy and if Origin comes again, I'd be over the moon. Fingers crossed I can just come back from this back to normal."
What was on his mind was the pain of the club's second grand final defeat in three years.
"It'd be silly if we said we'd want to go through that again. It's been twice now for a lot of us, and it'd definitely be a motivation because it was so hard to cop. Hopefully we can use a bit of that [motivation] next year."