Matt Scott wants to experience the fun side of rugby league again after nine months of working his backside off to recover from the ACL injury which cruelled his 2017 campaign.
There is often talk about “silver linings” for veterans like Scott that come with sitting out a year of NRL footy and not having an extra punishing season of wear and tear on the body.
But talk to the man himself and you begin to understand the competitive drive that resides in the hearts of professionals like the 32-year-old North Queensland Cowboys prop.
“I’m just really looking forward to playing again. I haven’t played a competitive game since round two and I do miss it,” Scott told NRL.com
“You get sick of just training.
“I get a lot of comments from people who say that it would have been good on the body to have a year off, and I think everyone forgets the amount of hard work that goes into rehabilitating an injury like this.
“You add all that into a 32-year-old front-rower … and there are a couple of other injuries I’ve got to look after as well.
“It has been nine months of really hard work and now I am looking forward to the fun side of rugby league again which is going away with the boys, hanging out with my mates and playing footy again.”
Scott said it was “extremely pleasing to watch” his teammates lift in the absence of himself and Johnathan Thurston in their run to the Telstra Premiership grand final.
But that joy was tempered by how desperately he wanted to be out there alongside them.
“I haven’t missed that much footy in my career before, so to watch the team and miss out on the camaraderie and all the good things about why we play rugby league has certainly made me very motivated to get back in the side and start taking part again,” he said.
“Just the time frame was the most frustrating thing. It is a nine-month injury and I am only just past the nine-month stage now.
“That was hard, especially towards the end of year when I was feeling like I was fit again and ready to play.
“Sitting out and watching the Queensland boys win Origin again, the Aussie boys win the World Cup and the Cowboys go all the way to the grand final … it was quite hard to miss out on all those big games.”
Those big games still hold a massive attraction to Scott, a man who has no intention of retiring from representative football.
He is keen to add to his 22 games for the Maroons, because on top of last season he also spent two years in the Origin wilderness after an underwhelming debut in 2006.
“I’ll play until they stop picking me, so long as the body is all right and I can manage a full year of footy,” Scott said
“I’d love to have another go next year. Hopefully I can return from this injury and play some good footy at the start of the year and pull the Maroon jersey on again.”
While individually one of the game’s best props over the past decade, Scott has always put the team first.
That attitude is why he put his hand up to play in the 2017 grand final despite not being fully fit.
“I was probably two months off being cleared,” he said.
“Everybody probably thought I was fit but that was never the case. I was prepared to play if I had to.
“With the new rules about having to name the team a few days out I spoke to Greeny [coach Paul Green] and we decided to name me in case a few of our guys didn’t get through the week because we had John Asiata, Ethan Lowe and Coen Hess all under injury clouds.
“If we had got one more injury we probably would have been using Queensland Cup players who hadn’t played for a few weeks anyway. We thought that if I played 30 or 35 minutes the risk of re-injury was pretty low, and it was a risk I was prepared to take.”
Scott is signed until the end of 2019 and will finish his career as a one-club player, a feat that will bring a great sense of satisfaction to the 233-game warhorse.
Now all he wants to do is run out on the field alongside his teammates.
In February he will achieve that goal and all the hard work in the rehab squad will have been worth it.
“I am still slightly modified at training but after the Christmas break I should be back to full training and ready for the trials,” he said.