Ryan James is unlikely to return in 2020 even if the competition extends past October with new rehabilitation protocols affecting one of the game's luckless injured stars.
While most players who have been nursing niggling injuries have benefited from the game's hiatus, James is among many who have been subject to strict measures in place by the NRL that reduces hands-on contact with high-performance staff.
The 28-year-old forward suffered heartbreak at a training session in February when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament after he had worked hard to get back onto the field from the same injury in that knee in 2019.
"I've gone from 1-2 physio sessions a day to 1-2 a week which is still good but usually you get about 10 a week at training," James told NRL.com.
"So I'm just trying to manage it until I get back to training, it's a really important stage of the ACL rehabilitation.
Last time they met: Titans v Sea Eagles - Round 15, 2019
"I thought I might've been a chance to get back later in the year but it's looking unlikely.
"Everything happens for a reason, it's one of those things you have to suck it up and do your rehab."
Off contract at season's end, James has expressed a desire to remain a one-club player but with the make-up of the 2021 salary cap under a cloud, he's resigned to the possibility of having to play the waiting game.
"I've been at the club now for 12 years so I'm very keen to stay on the Coast, it's who I am and what I do, I love being a part of it," he said.
"I'm definitely trying to stay in the future. It's put [discussions] back a couple of months but it's one of those things where I've got to just talk to them when the time comes and in the meantime I want to prove my value around the club in other aspects.
"I don't really know how it's going to play out and a lot will come down to how diligent I am with rehabilitation."
Despite being restricted to six games in the past 18 months, James enjoyed a four-year purple patch of form which included a call-up to an extended NSW squad in 2018.
He has ruled out retirement, while any chances of players switching to the Super League next season will depend on international border restrictions.
"I'll definitely play on regardless," James said.
"I really wanted to get back and play some consistent footy and play for a new contract. You just have to do your best and that's all I'm doing."