Kieran Foran’s NRL future hung in the balance for more than four months, but you wouldn’t know it by his demeanour on the training paddock.
The troubled Warriors playmaker finally had his one-year contract registered by the game’s governing body on Wednesday, clearing him to play from round three.
But if the five-eighth had let the uncertainty surrounding his future get to him, it wasn’t obvious to Warriors vice-captain Simon Mannering.
Foran has been training with his teammates since returning to his city of birth in October, and has made quick progress on a serious shoulder injury.
He is expected to be fully fit within a fortnight, well before his slated return against the Bulldogs in Dunedin on March 17.
That return will also depend upon one final psychological evaluation by an Auckland-based expert in four weeks’ time.
“The way he’s trained ever since being here, you haven’t even noticed he’s not sure if he’ll play or not,” the 31-year-old Mannering said.
“He’s been into everything and pushing himself and the guys around him.
“That’s the sort of player he is.”
The 26-year-old Foran was released from a lucrative long-term deal with Parramatta in July to address his personal issues.
A connection to Sydney-based gambling figure Eddie Hayson, who has been implicated in Australian match-fixing allegations, had also raised the NRL’s ire.
But with his illness issues resolved and his association with Hayson severed, Foran can now focus on returning to his on-field best.
Warriors coach Stephen Kearney said the club’s support for Foran wouldn’t dissipate the moment he steps back onto the NRL field.
Not only did he have the club’s full resources behind him, but his Warriors teammates would be alongside him every step of the way.
“He’s not there by himself,” Kearney told reporters.
“The team have, particularly in the three or four months he’s been here, been very conscious of making sure we protect and rally around him.”
Kearney acknowledged the premiership-winner’s journey back to full health was not yet complete, saying he had more work to do both mentally and physically.
But being able to get back into professional football would do Foran the world of good, having played the game since his childhood.
So would playing alongside prospective halves partner Shaun Johnson, who formerly paired with Foran at Test level.
“I remember meeting with him at the back end of last season, July or August, and he was a million miles away from even thinking about playing,” Kearney said.
“So that’s a process for him, every day, to keep working on getting better and no doubt this helps.”