The NZ Warriors could be facing a propping crisis just two weeks out from their first game of the revised NRL competition.
Experienced front rower Leeson Ah Mau has had a scan on his pectoral muscle after hurting it in .training on Friday.
But if Ah Mau needed a hit of positivity while waiting for that result, he needs to look no further than teammate Nathaniel Roache.
At Friday's training, the hooker Nathaniel Roache had his first proper hitout in nearly a year.
"That was a good step," Roache said. "But I was pretty rusty, to be honest."
Considering what Roache has gone through the past 12 months, that rust is understandable.
After knee surgery in July, he went under the knife on his ankle four months later.
For many, one major surgery is tough enough to come back from. This was Roache’s eighth.
"I've taught myself to remain positive to focus on the good things and not the bad."
But Roache's bad luck didn’t end there.
Not only did the lockdown stunt his rehab, Roache missed the flight with the team to Tamworth due to a COVID-19 scare.
Four days later, he flew to Sydney only to face more issues when it came to the drive to the team's Tamworth base.
"I went to go hire a car but then you have to have a full NZ license and I'm only on a restricted, so that caused a bit of another problem," Roache laughed.
It’s fair to say the road to Tamworth has been much longer than the six-hour drive a Warriors staff member had to make for him that afternoon.
But through it all, Roache has remained positive and is still hopeful of a return to competition in June or July.
"He's definitely a great role model for all of us boys in terms of bouncing back from any type of injury," said forward Isaiah Papali'i.
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