Cowboys centre Kane Linnett is determined to make the best of an unusual situation in which he is off contract this year but only has half-a-season to prove his worth.
The 29-year-old missed the first 12 weeks of the 2018 Telstra Premiership after tearing his pectoral muscle in the Johnathan Thurston-Cam Smith testimonial match against Storm.
The 29-year-old premiership-winner is eager to impress coach Paul Green and the Cowboys board after returning to the field last Thursday in his team's 26-12 away win over manly.
"It definitely doesn't help being out on the sidelines," Linnett said.
"It was out of my hands. I just had to move on. I look at it that I couldn't control getting injured but I could control doing the best rehab I could. Now I just need to play good footy and hopefully it all looks after itself.
"Obviously it's been a frustrating year doing my pec in the first trial match. I did a lot of hard work in the pre-season and then I was gone. I suppose that's footy. Now I've had to work hard again to get back to where I am. I'm just happy to finally be back with the boys."
He turns 30 in January and has enjoyed seven seasons in Townsville after arriving from the Sydney Roosters in 2012. He would like an eighth and beyond.
"I haven't really sat down with the club yet. I've just been ripping into my rehab so I could get back playing," he said.
"I'd like to stay with the Cowboys. I've obviously been up there quite a long time now. I have a little bub on the way. So life is good up there. Hopefully it keeps going that way."
Linnett is not the only outside back off contract in 2018 at the Cowboys. Javid Bowen, Lachlan Coote, Justin O'Neill and Antonio Winterstein are in the same situation.
The former Scotland international's return held one other surprise - playing in the back-row.
"I tried to come in and do the best job I could do," he said.
"I'm probably big enough to be in the forwards."
And if he has to remain in the engine room, he will do it.
"I'm not too sure really. There was a couple of people out but if they need me in the middle again I'll do it again," he said.
"I'm more comfortable a bit wider. But I'll do whatever it takes to help get some wins together."
He is just ecstatic he's back playing after more than three months out.
"I just got into my rehab, there's not much else you can do," Linnett said.
"You've just got to get it all right so there's no lingering problems when you get back on the field. I just needed to get my shoulder as strong as I possibly could.
"I had to make a few more tackles [against Manly] then I usually do out in the centres so I'll be sore for a couple of days no doubt. It was just so good to be out there and even better to get the win."