CONNOR Watson could have been forgiven for staying at home and wallowing in self-pity.
On Sunday, in only his second game back after ankle surgery that sidelined him for seven weeks, the dynamic Knights utility suffered a suspected ruptured Achilles tendon in Newcastle's 18-12 loss to Canterbury.
He now faces another major operation and is almost certain to be convalescing for the rest of the season.
As if he didn't have enough reason to feel sorry for himself, the 24-year-old is in the final year of his contract with Newcastle and now will be unable to improve his bargaining position through on-field performances.
In the circumstances, it would have been understandable had he chosen to cancel a scheduled media opportunity on Monday.
But there was no way Watson was going to miss a chance to promote a cause close to his heart - the NRL's annual Indigenous Round and, in particular, the auction of hand-painted boots to be worn by the Knights and other NRL stars this weekend.
The boots will raise funds for Cultural Choice Association, the not-for-profit organisation launched by Watson and his family to address the issue of indigenous youth suicide.
Watson has been personally touched by such a tragedy after a teenaged cousin took his own life in 2017.
Since then he has used his platform as a high-profile NRL player to become a positive role model for indigenous youths from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Last year the boot auction raised $27,000, and with the likes of superstars Benji Marshall and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck involved, Watson is hoping to surpass that this year.
"This is something that my family and I are really passionate about ... we're really pumped that everyone wants to be a part of it," Watson said. "Because we are really changing young indigenous people's lives."
This year the boots have been painted by indigenous teenagers from Kirinari Youth Hostel, in Cardiff, as well as youth justice centres in Grafton, Dubbo, Campbelltown and Kariong.
Watson said painting the boots in traditional indigenous patterns was a "medium" that enabled those involved to form connections and take pride in their work.
"If I see one of my favourite players wearing boots that I painted, about my culture, it would be a pretty special moment," he said.
He was disappointed he would not be able to wear his custom-designed boots or the Knights' eye-catching indigenous jersey against Melbourne on Sunday.
"It's a pretty tough pill to swallow, but unfortunately in footy these things happen," he said.
"I've just got to deal with it and come back bigger, better and stronger next year."
Watson said it was "hard to take" a non-contact injury, after his left Achilles just gave way as he tried to dart out of marker and put pressure on a Canterbury clearing kick.
"It was very sore last night," he said.
"I kept waking up because it felt like my foot was on fire. But it's OK ... I'm just more frustrated with how things year has been.
"Injuries happen but ... it's hard."