Greg Inglis should take things slow and steady in his knee injury recovery, writes Justin Hodges.

The greatest challenge facing 'GI'

Obviously I was shattered when my wife told me that my good mate Greg Inglis had suffered a serious knee injury playing for the Rabbitohs on Friday night.

I spoke to him on the Saturday and he was OK but the truth is that it probably hasn't hit him yet. He was due to go in for surgery on Wednesday and it's going to hit home what's ahead of him when he wakes up after surgery and his knee is all bandaged up.

Because of the quality of the medical treatment players now receive there is no doubt in my mind that he will come back from this but I think he should forget completely any thoughts of playing again this year.

I've spoken to him a couple of times already about not rushing back, that he needs to take his time to get it right. The slower you go with these types of recoveries the better it can work out in the long run.

You see guys who suffer the same injury two or three times because they have rushed coming back but with this he just needs to take his time to get it right and see out the rest of his career.

I saw that Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga said that he would pick him for the World Cup at the end of the year but I don't think Greg should even be thinking about getting back for that. He should be just worried about getting his knee right and spending some time with his family.

He's like any footballer, the more pressure you put on him to come back and play for Australia or play finals football, he's going to try and rush back to play but he just needs to get it right. That way he can finish off the next three, four or five years of his career on the right note.

An injury such as this really tests your character. You are alone. You're isolated, you're not a part of the group and you don't feel a part of the inner circle.

Even though he's the captain of the side he will still feel isolated because you're not on the training paddock, you're not in the gym, you're not going away and sitting around the hotel with the boys before a game. All these little things make a strong team great and you miss out on that camaraderie.

The other big thing that he will face is the day that he walks back on to a footy field. All of these doubts start to creep into your mind. You don't want to think about the possibility of doing the same injury again but it's a hard thought to shut out.

We've seen players come back from serious injuries before and perform at their best and I've got no doubt Greg can do the same. You only have to look at the likes of James Tedesco and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to know that it's possible but that first year after a serious injury is always tough.

Because he is so naturally gifted and so good already, his biggest battle will be his head. He can't put too much pressure on himself.

When you are a superstar of the game there is always going to be expectation but you've got to take baby steps and when he does come back, simply concentrate on the little things that he does well.

If he does that then the big plays will come eventually and we will see Greg Inglis do things again that only he can.

Final thought

Another superstar of our game currently dealing with the weight of expectation is Jarryd Hayne on the Gold Coast.

Going to the NFL gave him a profile that went beyond rugby league and went worldwide so that attention now follows him wherever he goes.

The Titans can't hide from the fact that so much attention will focus on 'Haynesy' this year which is a shame because they have got so many other terrific players in their squad.

When you have a superstar as big as Jarryd and you are hearing things coming out of the camp that he is doing things his way, it can disrupt the group.

Because everyone builds him up to be this big superstar, when he doesn't come up with the big plays he gets hammered by everyone.

But what Jarryd must do as a leader of his team is to make sure he doesn't drift in and out of games.

It would be like Johnathan Thurston dropping out for 10 minutes in a game or Paul Gallen not having his 30 runs; the Titans need Jarryd contributing in every set for 80 minutes every week.

If he doesn't, that sense of expectation from outside and also within will only grow bigger.

Hodgo's footy tips for Round 2