Dallin Watene-Zelezniak put aside a fear of needles with the help of Kiwis teammate Jared Waerea-Hargreaves to help settle an ongoing knee issue that has plagued him since childhood.
The use of stem cell surgery is becoming an increasingly used procedure in the game with Watene-Zelezniak the latest to undergo treatment in the off season.
Stem cell treatment involves the use of fat tissues being injected into a person's knee to help relieve tension and repair any damaged cartilage.
"I had a lot of swelling in my knee, I hurt it as a kid and hurt it again three years ago and have just been battling it," Watene-Zelezniak said.
"It hasn't been painful but just had fluid in it. I had time to fix it. It probably wasn't the best time because I do enjoy doing pre-season and I haven't had one for the last three years.
"I hate needles so it was sore. I didn't look but I felt [the needle go in] and thought what the hell is this?
"[But] it's amazing, I was surprised too. It will take the swelling away."
The 23-year-old admitted to being hesitant about the procedure given his young age but consulted Waerea-Hargreaves during the Kiwis' recent tour of the UK.
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Other players to undergo the treatment include Aaron Woods, Boyd Cordner and Trent Hodkinson.
"I'm real close with Jared and he was telling me about it," Watene-Zelezniak said.
"I came here and saw the surgeon to try and explain why it kept swelling up. He suggested the stem cell procedure. He said the Roosters boys have used it, Tedesco's used it.
"I spoke to Jared and he said he gets it done and his knee is amazing as well. I told the club and they were sweet with me to go with it."
The only downside to the setback has been on the training paddock with the Kiwis skipper made unavailable for the trials as part of his rehabilitation.
A battle for the fullback spot with Dylan Edwards also fell short of his expectations with Watene-Zelezniak named on the wing for round one against Parramatta on Sunday.
"I'm alright, you grow up as a kid just wanting to play in the NRL so I'm happy," he said.
"We want to win. Whatever it is I'll be doing my all and Dylan will be as well no matter where I'm playing."
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Watene-Zelezniak will mark Eels debutant Maika Sivo, who played for the Panthers' Canterbury Cup NSW side last season.
"I can try and be prepared with him but he's a freak of a player," he said.
"And congratulations to him, he deserves it. I've been waiting a while to see him debut and follow his path and watch him play. I'm sad it has to be up against us but I'm happy for him."