PJ Marsh is confident he will return to the New Zealand Warriors this season, but a groin injury is hampering his return from the neck problem that almost put a halt his career.
The Queensland and Warriors hooker hopes to gain clearance for his neck from his specialist next week, but said it would probably be another few weeks before he knew when he could return to the field.
Marsh missed much of the 2003 season after suffering a serious neck injury in the game against his former club Parramatta on June 14.
The 23-year-old had surgery to fuse vertebrae, similar to the operation former Australian vice-captain Gorden Tallis had in 2001, and there was a slight chance he would not play again.
Marsh said he was confident scans in the next couple of weeks would show that the bone had knitted together well.
"But if it hasn't, like I say it's just a time thing," he said.
"It will happen but it's just a matter of how long it takes."
Marsh said his neck had not given him any trouble since the surgery but he was battling to overcome a groin injury.
"I have been cleared to run by the specialist and to do skills, but the groin's stopping me from doing all of those things at the moment."
A frustrated Marsh hoped to be able to regain 100 per cent fitness but admitted he didn't like his chances of being totally rid of the groin injury.
"I think I'll end up sort of getting it to a level of pain where I can put up with it and that will probably just have to do it."
Warriors assistant coach Tony Kemp said all indications were that Marsh's recovery was coming along nicely and that he would be back.
"I can't see PJ not playing to be honest. He's working really hard at getting back."