Tom Trbojevic's left pectoral muscle had healed well enough to play both the Nines and the NRL trial game for the Sea Eagles.
But such is the value of the lanky Mona Vale Raiders junior that coach Des Hasler kept him wrapped in the ethereal bubble wrap.
Trbojevic suffered the tear in the round 24 loss to Melbourne last August, which ended his club season. It also shut down any end-of-season representative football.
But he diligently did the rehab and would have been fine to travel to Perth in early February, or Kogarah later in the month, to get back on the field.
"I've been good for a couple of months. I'm not too sure of all the reasons but coach didn't want to play everyone," Trbojevic told NRL.com.
Not that the Kangaroos and NSW Blues player needs the practice.
"I guess you do need match fitness and you get that from game time.
"But I'm confident in myself to get the job done against Storm."
Yes – the old enemy is once again travelling north to Lottoland, which was the scene of Trbojevic's latest injury woe.
He also had troublesome hamstrings during 2019, the second strain also happened at Lottoland in round four against the Rabbitohs, that restricted his total club games to just 12 – the second lowest of his five-year NRL career after his rookie season (9) in 2015.
"Unfortunately I did have my fair share but look, I don't like to dwell on it. I don't like to think about it – but in the same breath I am really looking forward to playing some footy."
The combination with his halfback Daly Cherry-Evans has been fine tuned a little more in the off-season.
"You do a bit with all players but especially with the spine you do a lot of work together," Trbojevic said.
"Chez and me have built a good chemistry and we had some new plays to work on. We also got Danny (Levi) at the start of the year so we've had to get used to him – he's been really good."
Cherry-Evans is also reaping the advantage of being once again in Hasler's brains trust when it comes to spruiking the Sea Eagles attack.
"Obviously coach does a lot of it (new plays) but Chez is very good at, and very vocal, about it.
"And it's not just new stuff, it's how to perfect some of our best, or favourite, plays."
Trbojevic will be opposite another outstanding No.1 in Ryan Papenhuyzen in Sunday's round one match. The pair will remain stuck behind James Tedesco in rep calculations in the same vein that many good No.9s were log-jammed behind Cameron Smith.
"I'm a big admirer of Teddy. He's a great player and I count myself lucky to be able to play alongside him," Trbojevic said.
The 23-year-old at least has versatility. He has played in the centres and wing for both Australia and NSW.
"Look, I don't really think about that rep side of things too much. When I'm at Manly I'm playing fullback and I'm looking ahead to a really good season."