Some of Manly’s biggest names will be left in cotton wool for this weekend’s Auckland Nines.
And former NSW State of Origin utility Jamie Buhrer would be forgiven for hoping to have been among them.
But Buhrer has vowed not to “play scared” at his comeback from yet another serious knee injury.
Buhrer was among few of the recognisable names in Manly’s Nines squad announced on Monday.
New coach Trent Barrett opted not to risk the likes of Daly Cherry-Evans and new recruits Nate Myles, Martin Taupau and Dylan Walker for a tournament partial to inflicting serious injuries.
Yet Barrett has rolled the dice by naming Buhrer, despite the backrower being on the comeback from a second knee injury in as many NRL seasons.
Buhrer has not been sighted since going down in Manly’s gutsy round eight win in Melbourne last April.
He does not have to be reminded of his past fitness dramas but says it will be the last thing on his mind when he runs out onto Eden Park.
“You can’t think about it,” he said.
“If you go out there and play scared you are not going to have much of a career left.
“I have had a couple of serious injuries in a row… it can get really lonely in rehab.
“But it is good to be back.
“After being out for a full year, I just want to get out on the paddock, put in some good performances and earn my place in the first grade team.”
Buhrer admitted watching the once-mighty Manly win just four of their first 14 games before narrowly missing the 2015 finals (9th; 11-13 record) hurt as much as his recovering knee.
“It was one of the toughest periods of my career, not only my injury but seeing the struggles we had on the field and not being able to do anything about it,” said Buhrer.
“Hopefully that is behind us now. We can start fresh.”
Buhrer conceded the new-look Sea Eagles under Barrett had a “different feel” but said their goal was the same.
“It is always to win a premiership, it doesn’t matter who is at the helm,” he said.
“As a club we haven’t had a turnaround like this in a long time but everything is going well.
“There is always optimism and expectation. We know what we are capable of.”