With his twice-reconstructed knee playing on his mind, Panthers lock Elijah Taylor has revealed the mental demons he battles every day ahead of his 100th NRL game this weekend.
Unwilling to put full faith in his knee in fear his anterior cruciate ligament will tear again; Taylor said his form has been affected as a result even though he is still averaging 50.9 tackles a game.
Following a knee reconstruction while playing under-20s with the Warriors in his formative years, the 25-year-old's second major knee injury in August last year is still hindering Taylor – who also fears he'll never add to his 10 New Zealand Test caps.
"The lack of confidence in my knee goes to my head and sometimes it doesn't feel as strong as it should," Taylor told NRL.com.
"But I rehab a lot and I prehab a lot. Mental barriers are the biggest one for me, it's probably the hardest thing to overcome.
"I have thoughts of doing it again and the thought of six months of rehab again is scary, they're bad thoughts, and I won't lie they are always there in the back of my mind.
"When you're injured the fire in the belly comes back but you're also trying to look after your career development too. You're chasing consistency and you're trying to play well – which are things you can't do when you're injured.
"It's going to be difficult to play for New Zealand again because with me being injured [last year] other people have taken their opportunities, so yeah it's been pretty tough.
"I just have to listen to the physios and the doctors. I'm always asking questions and I always want to get it stronger in the gym – I'm doing more leg weights – so I'm controlling everything I can control.
"I usually keep these thoughts to myself, but because the doctors, physios and trainers know, I'm always in constant contact with them."
On the field, Taylor was unsure where the Panthers – who are languishing at 12th on the Telstra Premiership ladder – head from here after being belted 52-10 against Melbourne last Friday.
"It's hard to put a finger on [what went wrong] when you're beaten by 42. I'm still trying to get my head around what happened because it's hard to pinpoint one thing," he said.
"But last week was a do-or-die clash, this week is everything. This game is everything for our season."
This article first appeared on NRL.com.