Luckless Penrith fullback Matt Moylan is hoping a minor stress fracture discovered after his club's final trial match will only cause him to miss a single NRL game.
Moylan has endured a long and frustrating comeback from a serious ankle injury suffered against the Eels at Pepper Stadium which has kept him off the field since Round 12 last year, and said the latest setback was particularly frustrating after a strong pre-season when he thought his injury woes were behind him.
"It was definitely frustrating; I was getting back out there, starting to play some footy again and just looking forward to getting out there Round 1 and playing," Moylan told NRL.com at the official NRL season launch on Thursday.
"To receive the news on Monday was probably a bit frustrating and disappointing to not even have played a comp game yet and be injured again. It's obviously frustrating but it's just a part of footy, I've got to get over it and just do my best to get back out there and be playing."
Moylan said the minor stress fracture was picked up after he was troubled by back soreness for three or four weeks prior.
"It's been sore, just tight and that for three or four weeks but I thought it was just a bit of back tightness, but over the last week and a half it's got a bit sorer," he said. "It was sore training with, then I played the game on the weekend (a 22-8 trial loss against the Eels) and pulled up pretty lame after the game, went and got scans and found out Monday arvo."
The scan results showed the injury wasn't too serious, in the one bright piece of news for the luckless 24-year-old who has only just been appointed club captain.
"It's just a little stress fracture, it's not all the way through, it's just a short recovery hopefully," he said.
"I'm just going to have to manage it for the time being, and throughout the season probably.
"I don't think I'll be there Round 1. Hopefully I'll be out there Round 2. I've got to rehab it now and see how it responds over the next week or two and just go from there. Once I start running again [we'll see] how it pulls up after that."
Moylan tipped either Dallin Watene-Zelezniak or Will Smith to keep his No.1 jersey warm until he returned to action.
"There's a couple of options there. Will Smith finished off the year there last year, obviously Dal's played there as well, it's probably up between the two of them. Either of them are more than capable of stepping up and doing a good job for us," Moylan said.
The one upside to the Panthers' catastrophic 2015 injury toll is the fact many fringe players have got some first grade under their belt.
"Having such an injury-riddled season last year has probably helped us as a club to improve our depth," Moylan said.
"We've had players play more first grade than they probably would have and I think that's helped them this year throughout the pre-season, and the trials bring out more confidence in them and they know what they've got to do to play more regular first grade."
While Moylan had spent plenty of time training in the halves over the pre-season he played the entire 80 minutes of Penrith's final trial at fullback and backed senior halves Jamie Soward and Peter Wallace – plus up-and-comer Te Maire Martin in reserve – to be the team's 2016 playmakers.
"I think [fullback] is where I'll be playing. Wal and Sowie have been good throughout the trials and 'T' [Martin] as well so I think we've got some options there in the halves. I know Wal and Sowie will probably be there Round 1, they're definitely experienced and shown dome good form throughout the pre-season and through the trials so I think they'll be out there leading us around."