Chase Stanley has been forced to fight back from two knee reconstructions, four shoulder operations and more heartbreak than one player deserves but he never thought about throwing in the towel.
After a lengthy and lonely rehabilitation from a torn ACL, the Canterbury centre made his first NRL appearance in 14 months in Monday's win over St George Illawarra.
Watching from the ANZ Stadium stands was his brother Kyle who two years ago was forced to retire at 24 after his fifth knee reconstruction.
Kyle was a constant source of inspiration and strength for Chase as he worked his way back from his second ACL injury to his left knee.
Stanley, 28, has been luckless throughout his career with the two-time New Zealand Test representative restricted to just 20 NRL appearances since 2014 and in a career spanning 11 seasons he has managed just 101 NRL games.
"I never thought about retiring, it never came across my mind," Stanley said.
"The day I stop loving the game is the day I retire. I'll keep fighting."
In a week marked by negative headlines and intense scrutiny of the side's performance, Stanley's first game since racking up his 100-game milestone against Canberra at Belmore Sports Ground last April has been cause for celebration.
Stanley said it had been a difficult road to get back on the park and the hours spent slogging away alone in the rehabilitation ward had taken a toll but believes his best football is still in front of him.
"It's very lonely and I'm not going to lie, sometimes you come in and you're pegged down," Stanley said.
"The boys and the staff have been great over the last year or so. It was just great to get out there and help the boys."