In a major boost for the Titans' season, injured fullback AJ Brimson is hoping to be back on the field inside a month after earlier fearing his season was over before it began after suffering a fractured back.
The 21-year-old fullback suffered the injury at the NRL Nines in Perth while making what he called "a sprint effort".
"It could have been a season-ending injury but it looks like it is not going to be. There is no time frame at the moment but I am definitely hoping to be back within a month," Brimson told NRL.com.
"I'm back doing skills drills now which is exciting. I feel lucky to just chuck the footy with my mates again.
"That is after I did roughly two months of just straight line running.
"Now it is about getting the contact into my body and the load into my legs so that I don't get a calf or hamstring tear because I haven't played since the Nines. Everything is coming along pretty smoothly."
Storm v Titans - Round 10
When Brimson sustained the injury he was optimistic of returning in the early rounds. The nature of the fracture then turned out to be more serious than initially thought and it was looking like he wouldn't be back this year.
"The original scan was a stress fracture and then it turned into a full fracture, but after talking to some specialists and doctors apparently it is not uncommon for it to turn out to be a full fracture," he said.
"Initially when COVID hit we went through it and realised it was going to be a long recovery. There was a chance I wouldn't be able to play this year and that it would be a six-month injury.
"It was about six weeks later everything came out in the media that it was a full fracture and people messaged me saying 'geez, can you walk?'
"Everyone was sorry to hear about it but I'd gone through that phase six weeks before and had moved on.
"Credit to our staff because I am feeling not just as good, but even better than I was prior to doing the injury. I am running good speeds and pain-free."
Earlier this season Brimson signed an extension until the end of 2022 at the Titans.
Since then the club has secured fullback Corey Thompson until the end of 2022 and Newcastle prop Herman Ese'ese will arrive next year on a two-year deal. Storm forward Tim Fa'asuamaleaui agreed to a three-year deal starting in 2021.
"Already there is a young, quality team here and there are only more coming next year which is exciting," Brimson said.
"Corey Thompson is a real livewire and I've already enjoyed watching him. It is frustrating that I can't be there but I think we were lucky to get someone like Corey.
"I can learn off him as well. He has played more games than I have and having that competition for spots will help us all perform better."
Brimson has found plenty to do in the past months outside of his regular rehab.
"I finished my carpentry apprenticeship a couple of years ago so I do a few jobs around the house once I get rehab out of the way," he said.
"I've done some tables and wine racks and that type of stuff to keep my mind off it."