They're the unlikely training buddies forging ahead on the long road back to the field, bonded by season-ending injuries but steadfast in the belief they’ll come back bigger and better in 2018.
North Queensland Toyota Cowboys co-captain Matt Scott and young outside back Shaun Hudson both suffered serious knee injuries at the start of 2017, Hudson injured while playing in the pre-season Auckland Nines and Scott while playing the Broncos in Round 2 of the National Rugby League season.
Resigned to not taking the field in a playing capacity for the remainder of the year, the pair have diligently attacked their rehab back from knee reconstructions, with Hudson at 22 weeks post-injury and Scott 20 weeks.
Cowboys Media caught up with the pair this week as they continued to train with an eye on being right for the 2018 season.
Both players have started running straight lines on the field after several weeks on the low-impact, gravity-minimising Alter-G treadmill, where condition is maintained with minimal impact on the recovering joint.
“Recovery for this type of injury is pretty long and every milestone you hit feels pretty good,” Scott said this week.
“Running’s a big part of the recovery process so it’s certainly good to be back.”
Thirty-two-year-old career Cowboy Scott – who this year signed a two-year contract extension to take him to 16 seasons for the club – said coming back from an ACL injury was not something you could be ahead of recovery-wise.
“The rehab staff do a good job of keeping the reins on with such a long recovery,” he said.
“Everything is on track at the moment and it’s just about getting kilometres in the legs.”
Scott flagged playing in Cowboys trials in 2018 plus being ready for Round 1 of the NRL season, adding that he aimed to start full-contact training in the new year.
Hudson said he was pleased with his progress as he comes back from his second such injury, the first sustained when he was in the Gold Coast Titans under-20s set-up as a teenager.
“I’m almost at the six-month mark now so it’s coming along nicely,” Hudson said.
“I think this stage now, where we’re at now is the hardest part – thinking your knee’s good and that you can go out there and do all this stuff.
“We’ve got a really good coaching staff here and we listen to what they tell us and take directions from them on the rehab side of things.”
Before his injury – sustained while scoring a try – Gold Coast product Hudson was pressing for a start in the NRL and was recently granted a one-year contract extension at the Cowboys.
ACL-injured teammate Josh Chudleigh is behind Scott and Hudson on the recovery timeline and has just started running on the Alter-G, with a view to running on the field in the next couple of months.
Teammates Patrick Kaufusi (foot) and Ben Spina (arm) also have season-ending injuries, while Ray Thompson continues his rehab back from a knee complaint.