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Panthers lock Elijah Taylor during a rare moment where he wasn't tackling a Cowboys player in Round 5.

Elijah Taylor was captain of the Warriors' under-20s side when he first blew his left knee. Five years later he was captaining Penrith for the first time when the memories came flooding back.

The tackling machine feared he had torn his third ACL in his career – he did his right knee last season – when he went down untouched in a win over the Sea Eagles a fortnight ago. 

"I thought it was pretty bad. It wasn't as painful as when I first did my ACL, but it was a similar feel," he recalled. 

"I didn't touch anybody. On the field I just stopped, I just felt it. Immediately I feared the worst. The next day waiting for scans it was nervous times."

The official diagnosis was bone bruising to the knee, an issue stemming from his first surgery in 2010 that could remain with Taylor until off-season surgery.  

"Apparently I messed up cartilage from my first ACL. That cartilage separated and the bones, they smacked together. That's what caused the swelling. Swelling's going to be around for a while," he said. 

"Ice, compression, rest, all that after every game and after every training session. I just have to be really smart in what I do to look after it, especially after the game."

Despite the setback, the 25-year-old expects to make a surprise return in Sunday afternoon's clash against Cronulla regardless of not being named by coach Ivan Cleary on Tuesday. 

"Definite at the moment," he said of his chances of playing. "It depends how my knee feels after the game, if it swells up again. [It's a] long time until the game. I'm confident.

"Last week every time I ran, it felt good. But when I pulled up, when I finished, it swelled up a lot. I've just got to monitor the swelling, monitor my load, how much I run, in preparation for Sunday." 

After helping the Kiwis to the World Cup final in 2013, Taylor was forced to miss last year's mid-year Test and Four Nations tournament due to injury. 

And the latest scare has cast doubt in his mind on whether to make himself available for New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney for next week's Test in Brisbane. 

"Yeah, it does," he said. "There's a lot of good back-rowers and they played well in the Four Nations. I just come back from injury. I've had five games, six games. Injury definitely plays a factor in trying to get some games under your belt and just get that confidence back to play week in, week out, without worrying about injury. It definitely plays its role."

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