This time last year, Kaysa Pritchard was swapping urine samples.
Twelve months on and the remorseful Parramatta rake is now in the rightful market of passing footballs around as he seeks to kickstart his stuttering NRL career.
Pritchard is set to string three games together for the first time in his career after being named by coach Brad Arthur on the bench for Friday’s clash against Canterbury.
The brother of former Bulldogs second-rower Frank has played just eight games since making his NRL debut three years ago due, to a lengthy injury history that included twin pectoral injuries in a horror 2015.
“I tore my pec in the Nines last year and then I came back and my first game back last year, tore my other one. I’ve been in pretty unlucky, but hopefully it’s all done and all positive from now,” he said.
But the worst part was a decision to allow teammate Kenny Edwards to take his drug test in his place in February that year, resulting in both players being stood down by the club.
In Edwards case, he was handed a nine-month ban.
Pritchard was reluctant to explain the saga but said he was eager to repay the Eels for sticking by him.
“Me and Kenny spoke about it and it’s been a good, positive start to this year. We’ve put last year behind us. Hopefully it can stay all positive this year,” he said.
“I’m happy we got through it, happy that the club gave me a second chance. With (Brad Arthur), the way he supported us two boys last year, it makes me want to play good for him.”
Pritchard, still only 21, has a big opportunity to play big minutes after first-choice hooker Nathan Peats suffered a dislocated elbow in last week’s win over North Queensland.
Veteran rake Isaac De Gois has been named to start against the Bulldogs, with Pritchard again slated to come off the bench.