He couldn't walk for a week after making his NRL debut in Round 1 but Titans centre Dan Sarginson says a new treatment program for his patellar tendonitis injury has him eyeing off an England Test spot in the upcoming Representative Round.
An England representative first in the 2014 Four Nations and again last year, Sarginson joined the Titans in the off-season where his preparation for 2017 was thrown into disarray due to discomfort around his patella tendon, blamed partly on new boots and the firmer fields found in Australia.
Due to the Titans' injury crisis that had already taken hold and with no risk of doing further damage, Sarginson played in Round 1 but was in such discomfort that he missed the following five games.
The 23-year-old has been undergoing platelet rich plasma (PRP) treatment in recent weeks and said it has made a significant difference to his recovery.
PRP is a process whereby blood is taken from the individual and using a special centrifuge machine is spun down to separate out and concentrate the platelets and growth factors that are essential for tissue healing.
According to the Southern California Orthopedic Institute, "the trick is getting the concentrated platelets to the right place. The PRP can be injected directly into very small tears that are sometimes not apparent on MRI. Once these platelets and growth factors are in the area of injury they then become activated."
The Titans and other NRL clubs have used the process sparingly in the past for injuries such as medial ligament tears in the knee and other tendon-related injuries and Sarginson has no doubt it has worked for him.
"This PRP has really seemed to help. I'm feeling loads better this time," Sarginson said.
"I usually wouldn't be able to train mid-week. After the Roosters game I couldn't walk for probably a week, it was just too sore. So for me to be able to walk the next day was a bonus this week and to be out there training obviously means it's getting a lot better."
Given his disrupted start to his maiden year in the NRL, Sarginson feared that his chances of being selected to play for England against Samoa in a fortnight's time in Campbelltown were slim at best.
Highly critical of his own performance against Brisbane in his return last Friday, Sarginson said some comforting words from Broncos and England coach Wayne Bennett has given him some hope of being selected to face Samoa.
"I spoke to Wayne after the game. He obviously saw how disappointed I was, put his arm around me and said I had a long season ahead of me and reassured me that I'd been out for so long and that it was never going to be a massive performance from me," said Sarginson, who may line up on the left wing against the Sharks on Saturday night.
"I don't know what he's thinking in terms of the England Test but I'd love to play in that game.
"If it means having a week off and resting my knee in that week, if that works out best for the club then obviously I'll do that but if I'm fresh and ready to go and playing some good footy then hopefully I can play in that game.
"It was good motivation for me, that first game playing against my England coach, so probably a bit of added pressure that I put on myself but there's still a few more weeks before that game so still time to build a bit of confidence and play some good rugby.
"Going on what he usually does he usually pretty much starts all of his NRL players because he knows they've played at the highest standard week in week out.
"Obviously there's the odd exception and the guy fighting for my position, Mark Percival at St Helens is playing some really good rugby at the moment so it wouldn't surprise me if he brought over quite a few players just for the experience over here."
Although lining up against the Sharks for the first time, Sarginson is somewhat familiar with Cronulla's style having watched the 2016 NRL Grand Final with his Wigan Warriors teammates before joining the Titans, admitting that he was hoping for a different result.
"I like Melbourne, I wanted Melbourne to win, but didn't go that way," he said.
"For us to not all sit around and watch it would be stupid, watching the best in the game in our positions. We watch it as kind of a learning thing over there and watch the best in the world and I did that last year with a few of the Wigan boys."