Last year's coronavirus break was "a blessing in disguise" for Macquarie five-eighth Jeremy Gibson.
It gave him the necessary time to recover from a nasty ankle injury after damaging four ligaments on his right side while playing for Maitland midway through 2019.
"I didn't need surgery because they heal themselves, but three months in and I still couldn't walk properly," Gibson said.
"I ended up going back to the specialist and it was more so the dented bone then the ligaments.
"There wasn't much I could do except stay off it so I didn't run for six months.
"If I had of tried to play again the next year  it wouldn't have been fully recovered so I suppose COVID-19 was a blessing in disguise for me.
"Now I'm 100 percent and hardly even notice it. I get it strapped, but only as a precaution."
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Round one a fortnight ago marked Gibson's first game back in almost two years.
Sunday sees Macquarie visit Wests at Harker Oval, the venue where he went down.
"I was just running after a ball and went over, but you could see the studs on my boots sideways because my ankle had rolled that much," the 22-year-old said.
"It was pretty bad. It's the worst injury I've ever had.
"This will be my first time back there since. Ill be staying away from that spot."
Gibson lives at East Maitland and played juniors for the nearby Griffins as well as the Thornton-Beresfield Bears.
He then had a four-year stint with the Pickers' senior ranks, including his first-grade debut under then Maitland coach Luke Dorn in 2018.
"I really like the way he coached and I think we could have gone a lot better that year," he said.
The Pickers lost the last game of the season against Lakes at home in 2018 and slipped from potential minor premiers to fourth before being knocked out by Kurri in the first week of finals.
Gibson now finds himself at Macquarie.
The playmaker was recruited by coach Steve Kidd, has prior links with winger Joe Woodbury and previously played alongside the likes of Matthew Moon in the Rebels development squad.
"Kiddy had stayed in contact with me for a while and I had a few other offers elsewhere, but Macquarie more suited my style and how I want to play," he said.
Gibson, who only joined the Scorpions at Lyall Peacock Field in February, said he and halfback Andy Sumner "complement each other in the halves.
"I'm loving it, really enjoying it down there," he said.
Macquarie opened their 2021 account with a 22-12 victory over Souths at Townson Oval on Saturday. They lost 22-10 first up away to newcomers The Entrance.
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