Just a fortnight ago Christian Welch thought he would be sidelined for 12 months with a wrecked knee, but the resilient Melbourne Storm prop was cleared of any serious damage and is aiming to return to the field as early as next weekend.
Welch went down clutching his left knee just before half-time of the Storm's round 10 clash against the Tigers earlier this month and it initially looked like the 24-year-old was going to require a second knee reconstruction and be out of action until 2020.
But those fears were soon allayed. Welch only required minor surgery on his meniscus and was told he'd need 4-6 weeks to recover.
But the news keeps getting better for Welch, with his comeback ahead of schedule.
He commenced running on Thursday and hopes to convince medicos that he is fit enough to return to action for the Storm's next match against the Warriors on June 8.
"I have been really happy with the progress and how the knee has settled down,” Welch said.
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"There is no real structural damage, they have just gone in and taken out the meniscus, so it's just how the knee settles now.
"I am back doing a fair bit of work now, so hopefully in the next couple of weeks I will be back playing.
"If everything falls into place then hopefully next weekend, if not, maybe the weekend after.”
Welch was considered a front-runner for a bench spot for the Maroons in next week's State of Origin series opener, but the injury setback means the proud Queenslander will have to put his debut on hold for at least a few more weeks.
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If Welch can return for the Storm's clash with the Warriors, there is an outside chance he could be considered for the second Origin match of 2019 in Perth on Sunday June 23, especially if the Maroons lose game one.
But that Origin dream isn't currently on Welch's radar, who is just hoping to get back as quickly as possible and continue his consistent club form.
“I think I was the happiest man ever to tear a meniscus," Welch said.
"It was a goal to play Origin, but I am just glad going to be back this year playing for the Storm.
"I am trying to be very aggressive with it, but at the same time I have got my physio staff who are looking after my long-term (health).
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"Obviously I am very eager to come back, but if it’s not right it’s not right and I will just take my time.
"At the moment I am being pretty aggressive with my rehab ... see how the knee reacts from there and plan accordingly."