RTS: I didn't know if I could come back
Warriors skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has opened up about the devastating knee injury that cut short his first season in New Zealand.
The 23-year-old managed just seven games in 2016, with the livewire fullback forced from the field 16 minutes into the Round 7 win over the Bulldogs with what turned out to be a season-ending ACL injury.
It was a cruel blow for one of the game's brightest stars, with many, including Tuivasa-Sheck, fearing the injury would rob him of his explosive footwork.
"It started to get pretty dramatic at the time and I was thinking, 'This is it, it's over. I don't know if I can come back from this. What do I do now?'" he told NRL.com.
"That's the first time I had to go under the knife so that was pretty scary. To sit out the whole season was really daunting for me, so to be where I am now is a massive relief."
Thankfully, Tuivasa-Sheck was able to lean on the support of his family and close friends, with teammate Shaun Johnson playing a vital role during the recovery period.
The Warriors halfback broke his left ankle in 2015, but showed no ill effects last season with his running game as explosive as ever.
"Shaun used to come up to me all the time with a physical tip," he said.
"We talked a lot about the injury and what I was going through, and it was funny because I was the first person to tackle him after his injury. He told me to be as confident and as smart with the recovery as I could be.
"That was a tough time, but with really good support around me, I fought through it.
"I'm really happy with my rehab and how everything has been going. I've just been trusting the medical team and I knew they'd get me back on the field.
"Now I'm just trying to play as much as possible because I know the confidence will come with the more games that I play."
The 2015 Dally M fullback of the year looked like he hadn't missed a beat in the recent trial win over the Titans, but it was his ball-playing, not his footwork, that stood out.
"It felt good running again and being out on the field with the team. That felt the best," he said.
"I've been working a lot on my combinations with Shaun and Ata [Hingano] and Mason [Lino] and Kieran [Foran] to give more weapons to my game and to give depth to what I can do."
The Warriors will need the likes of Tuivasa-Sheck, Johnson and co to be fit and firing this weekend when their season gets underway against the Knights.
The New Zealanders have traditionally been slow starters, and Tuivasa-Sheck knows how important picking up two competition points will be against a team they're expected to beat.
"I think the game against Newcastle will be a really good start for us and will hopefully give us the chance to kick off our season really well in front of our home fans," he said.
"I think the most important part is staying true to who we are, which is the Warrior way. I know the past has been difficult for us, but that's the past."