Phoenix Crossland was a week away from being back playing again after having his pre-season virtually written-off by injury when the NRL competition was shut down in March.
Now fully fit, the young Knights playmaker faces a huge challenge to play at all this year with no second tier footy to push his case for top grade selection.
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Crossland will be one of a host of players on the outside of the top squad looking in when the premiership resumes with training likely to be his only real avenue to impress the coaching staff in a bid to force his way into the top squad unless injury forces their hand with the NSW Cup competition abandoned for the year.
His only other potential opportunity to get some match practice during the back half of the year would be if the local Newcastle rugby league competition gets back up and running. A decision on its future is likely at the end of next month.
But the 19-year-old can find a silver lining out of the suspension of the competition.
He believes he would have been "behind the eight-ball" given the amount of time he had off if he had started playing in round three.
"So I've sort of used this time we've been off to try and catch up the pre-season I missed by doing a few extra kms than the other boys and one or two extra sessions a week on skills," he said.
"When its time to start up again, it will hopefully feel like I've missed nothing. I'll have done my own little pre-season."
"I'm obviously not too keen on missing 16 months of footy which is what it could be if I don't get a look in this season," he said.
"But I guess with what is happening around the world, when it comes to your health and being safe and looking at the bigger picture, there are bigger problems than me going 16 months without playing any footy."
Crossland had been a serious contender for a halves role alongside Mitchell Pearce this season before a ball was kicked.
But he was hampered early on in the pre-season after finishing last year with a slight fracture in his ankle that required 10 weeks of rehab and after just three weeks back, he was floored by osteo pubitis.
"I think I got three weeks of training in after coming back from the fracture and then I rocked up one day and I couldn't run. It was in my groins, my hips and it was traveling up my back and it was in my gluts, it was everywhere," he said. "I was trying to rehab it but it got to the stage where I couldn't even lift my legs up to run. "
A specialist's prognosis was basically to rest for four weeks. Crossland believes his lack of early training due to his ankle fracture contributed to his second injury.
"I didn't do much running at all in the off-season and I think that's why I hurt my groin," he said. "The loads went up when pre-season started for me and I probably wasn't prepared for it."
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