Dale Finucane is hoping his injury-enforced absence due to a troublesome thumb has an upside for Melbourne as they head into the NRL finals.
The 26-year-old is back in the Storm starting side to face Canberra at AAMI Park on Saturday night after making a successful return off the bench in their last round win over the Warriors.
Normally ultra-durable, Finucane missed half of the Storm's games this season due to his thumb.
He had a pin inserted in his fractured thumb in late March and then took a hit on the joint soon after his return which re-fractured it.
He'd previously never missed more than three games in a season.
"Being the second time around the fracture takes a little bit longer to heal," Finucane said on Wednesday.
"The performance staff were a little bit more conservative this time around because if I needed to get another operation it would have been a six-to-eight week term."
He's hoping that the layoff means he's primed for the finals.
"Coming into the back end of the year it feels like I haven't played a lot of football which is probably a good thing because I feel relatively fresh," the lock said.
While it's been a frustrating time for Finucane, the Storm have surged to the top of the NRL ladder and are building nicely to defend their title.
Despite that position, Finucane feels like they still haven't played their best football.
"We've been gritty in defence which is something that Craig and the team pride ourselves on but in attack we need to sharpen our tools," Finucane said.
Finucane spent some time while injured in the coach's box and said he had Craig Bellamy's blasts ringing in his ears.
"I picked up a bit of saliva on the forearms," he joked of the Storm coach's famous sprays.