Frustrated Melbourne Storm fullback Scott Drinkwater admits it has been a difficult few months sitting on the sidelines with an expiring contract looming in the background.
Drinkwater was the talk of the town at the start of the year, with the 22-year-old seemingly anointed as Billy Slater's immediate successor at the Storm following an impressive pre-season.
But that all came crashing down when Drinkwater tore a pectoral muscle in a trial game against the Cowboys at the start of March and since then the Terrigal-product has dropped down to third choice fullback for the Storm, with Kiwi Jahrome Hughes and young gun Ryan Papenhuyzen performing well in his absence.
Drinkwater is contracted to the Storm until the end of the season, but has the option to extend his stay in Melbourne for another 12 months.
But whether he decides to remain in Melbourne and fight for the No.1 jersey or move back closer to home isn’t even on Drinkwater's radar.
The former schoolboy star is focused purely on getting back on the park and playing some good football.
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"Right now I am not all that focused on where I am going to be, I just want to play footy," Drinkwater said.
"I am itching to get out there as it has been a long 11 weeks. I just want to get back and fit, play some good footy and put those boys under some pressure and see what happens from there."
There is finally light at the end of the tunnel for Drinkwater, who is closing in on a return and has earmarked an Intrust Super Cup match for Easts Tigers against Northern Pride at Langlands Park on June 1 as his comeback match.
He said the initial stages of his recovery period were the hardest, but once he got back on the training track things became easier and now he can’t wait to return to the field.
"It was very shattering when it happened and the first six (weeks) went way too long," Drinkwater said.
"I was stuck in the gym getting flogged on my own, but once I got outside and started training with the boys again you are pretty much doing everything that everyone else is doing apart from playing on the weekend.
"It is a bit more enjoyable when you get the ball in your hands ... the last four or five weeks have gone super-fast."
To get ready for that return match, Drinkwater will undergo full contact work at training next week and hopes to be back challenging Hughes and Papenhuyzen for selection within weeks.
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"They are killing it aren’t they ... it's good to see," he said.
"People weren’t really talking about Paps during the pre-season and he has come out firing when he has got the opportunity.
"Jahrome has got Paps on his tail and when I come back I will be trying to do the same thing.
"Competition is always great and brings out the best in you, so I can’t wait to get back and try and put some heat on them."