Brisbane Broncos outside back Delouise Hoeter has revealed how a decision to delay shoulder surgery last year saved his NRL career.
The 28-year-old ended a 2475-day "exile" from the NRL when he played for the Broncos against Penrith in round six in 2022, his first top-grade game since 2015 when he was at the Wests Tigers.
He was on a one-year deal at the time and off-contract, but it was a moment he savoured.
Nine days later his career was on the line when he badly injured his shoulder while playing for Wynnum-Manly against Souths-Logan in the Queensland Cup, courtesy of a heavy hit from Broncos clubmate Logan Bayliss.
"I almost tore my tendon off," Hoeter said.
He faced a big call - have surgery and face a five-month stint on the sidelines, or delay surgery and play through the pain.
"I was advised to have surgery, but I had only played one game against Penrith and I didn't want my season to end there," Hoeter said.
"I just rehabbed it for three weeks and then played through it. Every player has some niggles or some sort of injury they play through, and sometimes we just have to get through it.
"I was still on a one-year deal and that was part of the reason why I didn't want to go for surgery. Five months (of recovery) would have probably ended at the end of the year.
"I thought it was the best thing for myself and my family to try and push through until the end of the season."
It was a decision that reaped rewards for the trainee school teacher, who played seven NRL games in 2022. The Broncos gave Hoeter a two-year extension at the end of the season before he went under the knife.
He is still in the rehab group, but is ready to push the outside backs at the club for a starting spot once his shoulder is right.
"I am very thankful to the club," Hoeter said.
"I had surgery around October and it is around a five-month recovery, so I am just over halfway.
"I will hopefully be ready for the Titans or Cowboys (trials in February).
"It was a big accomplishment to even play one game after I'd come back after seven years ... and now I want to push Kotoni (Staggs), Herbie (Farnworth) and all the outside backs."
Last year Hoeter set himself a goal to play three NRL games. This year he has upped the ante.
"I did write down 10," he said.
"It could be more. It could be less. I just want to be available as many times as I can to be selected."