Penrith centre Jamal Idris says he will wait to see how his reconstructed knee recovers before deciding whether to fulfil the final year of his NRL contract next season.
Idris, 25, has previously come back from long-term injuries that had threatened his career, including double hip surgery, shoulder issues, an ankle reconstruction and neck problems.
But, for the first time, the former NSW representative fears his mental demons might not let him return from this one.
“This is more in my head than anything,” Idris told AAP.
“The other injuries, afterwards I didn’t really think about it. I didn’t pay too much attention to the comebacks. I knew when I was going to come back and it was just going to be a rip and tear.
“But, at the moment, it’s just playing on my mind because it was the ACL.
“You don’t have much control over it. It’s not an awkward step or anything – it just went.
“It’s not like a broken bone or a soft-tissue injury.”
Idris has targeted an unlikely return during the finals – should Penrith get there – after running for the first time on the right knee he tore in early April.
“We’re looking at that at the moment,” he said.
“I’m also going to see where the team’s at and where I’m at fitness-wise. If I’m ready to play and I’m feeling fit and ready to go, I’ll play.”
Where his future lies after that – he has one more year remaining on his deal with Penrith – he has left up in the air.
But the former Gold Coast player rubbished reports of an early switch to Manly or the Wests Tigers.
“People become doctors, telling me what I should be doing with my ACL,” he said.
“They become professionals, telling me what I’m doing with my career.
“How are they meant to know when I don’t even know?”
Asked whether he would fulfil the final season with the Panthers, he said: “When I start playing again, that’s when I’ll be able to tell where I’m at and how I’m feeling with myself.”