Across 11 seasons in the NRL, Gerard Beale has dealt with more than his share of injuries, but the fractured patella he suffered in August last year was so serious it left him wondering if he'd play again.
Beale suffered the gruesome injury in round 22 after colliding with Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves at the SCG.
Almost seven months on, he still hasn't been cleared to resume contact work, but is grateful to be back on the training field in a limited capacity after originally thinking he may be forced to retire.
"The initial thought was that my career could have been over," Beale told NRL.com.
"It was just lucky there was no ligament or tendon damage.
"At first they thought there was, and I thought it too, which would have made it a longer recovery.
"That could have been the end.
"But it was actually the surgeons who were under the impression I'd get back out there."
Beale counts the operation as the fourth bout of major surgery he's had on his left leg, coming after work to repair a broken fibula and tibia sustained at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup and two prior knee reconstructions.
He's still only 29 but Beale is off contract at the end of this year and said retirement will be an option.
The initial thought was that my career could have been overGerard Beale
Injury-enforced lay-offs have contributed to the former Kiwi international playing only 25 of a possible 49 NRL games since arriving at the Warriors from the Sharks in 2018.
"The next couple of months will be big for me and my career and seeing which way it goes and what I'll be doing," Beale told NRL.com.
"My main focus is getting the leg right and then from there I'll be able to make a decision.
"I think every player wants to continue playing. I am confident I can get there, but I'm being realistic knowing things can happen along the way.
"The injuries have been quite frustrating because I am really enjoying my time here.
"Hopefully in the next few weeks I will be able to get back out there and I suppose fulfill what I wanted to do here."
Soward's Say: 2020 Warriors
Beale played predominantly as a centre last season, but with David Fusitu'a moving into right centre in 2020 and Peta Hiku likely to be a locked in starter on the left, his most likely avenue back into the top grade will be on the right wing.
Either way coach Stephen Kearney said Beale will need to play a number of games in the club's reserve-grade side before he's considered for an NRL return.
"Definitely back via reserve grade. He's had a pretty horrific injury and it's been a long process to get back," Kearney said.
"We need to see how he handles the rigours of being back in the game.
"But the attitude he has had has been outstanding… that will put him in a good position."