Scott could come back even better
North Queensland Toyota Cowboys assistant coach Josh Hannay has lauded Matt Scott's attitude as the Kangaroos prop prepares for his return to training after nearly making a surprise comeback in the finals.
The Maroons and Kangaroos veteran has made stunning progress since suffering the ACL injury that ruined his 2017 campaign.
"Matt's is a major injury to come back from and it is going to be a challenge for him, but we got to see the work he put in with the rehab squad this year where he trained the house down and left no stone unturned in his recovery,'' he said.
"It was a real credit to him that he got himself into a position where he was a borderline chance of being available for the last two weeks of the finals.
"That was a testament to his dedication and he looked extremely fit at the back end of the year.
"All of that augurs well when he starts back training in preparation for next season."
While Scott's recovery is racing ahead, star halfback Johnathan Thurston may take a bit longer to get into full training.
"'Johnno' is obviously a bit behind Matty, and coming back from a different injury as well, but despite the fact that he won't be able to do everything when he comes back it will just be good to have him around this pre-season; that is for sure," Hannay added.
Former Maroons and Test prop Greg Dowling said there may be an upside to Scott's enforced 2017 lay off.
Dowling compared an injury experience he battled through during his playing days to the situation now facing Scott.
The rugged prop said playing for an extended period of time with an undiagnosed injury late in his career came in stark contrast to the treatment afforded to Scott.
"I didn't know I had fractured my hip and it was so frustrating for me it wasn't funny. It ended up finishing my career," Dowling said.
"Whereas I laboured for two years, Matt, having this time off, will return rejuvenated and with extra energy.
"With his knee mended he will rip and tear and come back like a kid in a candy shop.
"I reckon this break can add two years to his career and I have no doubt he will come back an even better player… if that's possible.''
The addition of ball-playing skills to Scott's game in recent years is something that has delighted Dowling.
"Three or four years ago he started to develop an offload and become a ball distributor, and that jolted him up the ladder to become the number one prop in the game,'' he said.
"I can still see him taking his game to yet another level.
"I was speaking to him a few months back and he was saying how relaxed he was and how he can't wait to get back into it for the Cowboys.
"When you play club and representative football up front like he does you get bashed around so this break will rejuvenate his mind, tune up the rest of his body and allow him to get over those other niggling injuries you carry."
Dowling has no doubt the Cowboys can go one better next season with the return of their big guns.
"To get to the grand final without the number one prop in the game and the number one player in the game was a mean effort," he said.
"With those two players back, and throw in (new signing) Jordan McLean as well, you can install them now as premiership favourites."
First published on NRL.com.