Mansour pledges to lend a hand
I know what you're going through and I'm here to help.
That's the message Panthers winger Josh Mansour has for fellow NRL players who are struck down by the dreaded season-ending ACL injury.
Mansour felt the emotional and physical pain of the injury during last year's Four Nations tour when an innocuous training collision saw him miss the bulk of the tournament as well as the first 12 rounds of the 2017 Telstra Premiership season.
It was a cruel blow for one of the game's most loved characters, but after an extensive rehab period that saw him endure some tough times, Mansour has returned to the NRL and is a key part of Penrith's push to the finals.
Having experienced the injury first hand, Mansour says he's more than willing to lend his support to anyone who needs it during the gruelling recovery period.
"I've already spoken to a couple of fellas this year," he told NRL.com.
"I dropped a message to Jorge Taufua earlier in the year and gave him an insight into what to expect, and I spoke to Gutho (Eels star Clint Gutherson) not that long ago to give him an insight into my journey and how I approached things before I went in for surgery.
"It's very cruel, but unfortunately it happens in the game and you've got to move on.
"The first week is tough, but I don't think the gravity of the situation really sinks in for a while because you don't really expect what's in store unless you've done it before. It's one of the toughest injuries to come back from and it really tests your character so you've just got to be resilient and push through the pain."
Watching on as your teammates go through pre-season training can make the rehab ward feel like a very lonely place, but that wasn't the case for Mansour who received plenty of support from several of his Panthers teammates.
"We had a few blokes at the club last year in Peta Hiku, Sam McKendry and Dean Whare go through something similar, while Peter Wallace has experienced it in the past as well," he said.
"When I was starting to get back on the footy field, I just kept asking those guys for tips and they were very helpful. It's good to have people around you when you're in a position like that and I was grateful for my teammates to support me."
Mansour hasn't missed a beat since returning in Round 13, with the powerhouse winger averaging more than 150 metres per game this season.
While he was tentative to test out the knee in the first few games, Mansour revealed he is now over the mental demons and is fully committed to helping the Panthers reach the playoffs despite a slow start to the season.
"Obviously at the start you're a bit hesitant to jump off the leg which is only natural, but now I'm pretty much 100 per cent confident doing that. I've got nothing really fazing me and there aren't any mental barriers on the field," he said.
"I think it was my fifth game back and I played really well and that was the moment I knew I was back as a footy player. It's games like that that give you confidence and now the next step is to play consistent footy alongside a group of guys who are playing great footy which makes my job a lot easier.
"Every game I play adds to my confidence. I still think I've got loads of improvement to do compared to last season and I'm looking forward to the challenge."
This article first appeared on NRL.com.