Brisbane winger Corey Oates admits the swelling from a leg infection that left him hospitalised may never settle this NRL season but is backing himself to make a 2020 impact.
And the incumbent Queensland State of Origin flyer concedes he will have to impress to keep the Broncos' young brigade of backs at bay.
Oates, 25, says he is close to returning to full training ahead after enduring a nine-day stay in hospital with a "pretty serious" infection last month.
"It's on the mend. I have got another week of antibiotics and the swelling has gone down a fair bit," he told the club website.
"It probably won't go down fully. I may have to play the year with a bit of lump and put a pad over it but I will take it over being in hospital."
His time in hospital clearly tested his patience.
"The first week is just long. I had the cricket (on TV) the first few days so it was alright but the three, four days in between Tests I was like 'I am bored'," he said.
"I had nothing to do. I couldn't move. They said you could get up and go to the toilet and back and that is it - I was like 'you beauty, how good is life'."
But he admits he won't be lacking motivation when he tries to make up for lost time in pre-season training with Brisbane's young guns now breathing down his neck.
"I feel old," he laughed.
"There's heaps (coming through). There's (teenagers) Tesi Nui, Tommy Dearden, Cory Paix - if they all train hard and work hard I feel they will all go a long way.
"They are all great, young kids, positive and full of energy so I am sure they will be pushing for some spots.
"A lot of them are going to have a pretty good career."
Depending on his recovery, Oates may be in the mix for the Broncos' huge pre-season.
Brisbane are set to contest the NRL Nines (February 14-15) in Perth and trials against Central Queensland Capras in Rockhampton (February 15), Wynnum (February 21), North Queensland Cowboys in Cairns (February 22) and the recently announced February 29 clash with Gold Coast at Redcliffe.
Australian Associated Press