St George Illawarra halfback Brett Firman will book himself in for his second shoulder reconstruction following the Dragons' last match of the season, ending his remote chances of earning a spot on the upcoming Kangaroo tour.
Firman has been carrying the right shoulder injury for a few years but the problem reached its worst point during a round 14 match against Newcastle in mid-June when he was forced off the field.
A strong candidate to win the Dally M rookie of the year award, Firman missed the 2002 season because of a shoulder reconstruction on his left shoulder while contracted to Cronulla.
"It's been good the last few weeks but I just want to get it fixed up so I'm sweet and I don't have to worry about shoulders after this year," said the 21-year-old today of his right shoulder.
"I've been getting through my games but I don't want any more shoulder dramas.
"I've had no problems with the one just reconstructed - it's stronger than ever."
National selector Arthur Beetson recently mentioned Firman as one of five possible candidates to replace injured Australian captain Andrew Johns for a one-off test against New Zealand and the Kangaroo tour of France and Great Britain.
"I don't have any expectations about that at all," said Firman about his test chances.
"It's just all talk. It's nice for my name to be tossed up but it's not going to happen."
Firman wants to undergo surgery as soon as possible, even forfeiting the side's end of season trip to Hawaii.
He expected his recovery period to total six months, making him available for the Dragons' 2004 pre-season program if they fail to make this year's finals.
On the eve of St George Illawarra's crucial clash with Melbourne, coach Nathan Brown praised Firman's debut year in first grade, saying he had handled the immense pressure with aplomb.
"He's a good young player but he played Jersey Flegg two years ago and didn't play last year," said Brown.
"Now he's a first grade halfback who's playing without a five-eighth basically.
"Shaun Timmins might be the Australian five-eighth but Timmo played inside Joey Johns, who's the greatest player ever to play rugby league, or so everyone says.
"He's (Firman) had a lot of pressure on him and he's come up good."