St George Illawarra coach Steve Price got the worst kind of early Christmas present yesterday.
Scans have confirmed versatile Dragons back Kyle Stanley requires major knee surgery which will sideline him for the entire 2013 season.
"It's not the best news but I understand this decision is in my best interests," Stanley said.
"I have to remain positive and know that once the surgery is completed I can commence the road back to recovery properly with solid rehabilitation."
Still only 21, Stanley has endured a history of knee problems in his brief but promising career.
He made 14 first-grade appearances in various backline positions for the Dragons in 2012 before suffering a season-ending knee injury in round 19 against Cronulla.
His comeback was on schedule before he slipped on a wet surface - he wasn't training at the time - and re-injured his knee.
"Everyone at the club is saddened by this news and feel for what Kyle has to go through, but we will all be by his side along the way," Price said.
"Kyle is an exciting young player who has really come of age this past year and he has handled these recent obstacles with positivity and maturity."
Stanley has taken his latest setback on the chin and is committed to fighting his way back.
"The entire team are in the middle of pre-season now and are all working hard ahead of the new year ahead," he said.
"They've all wished me well, and while I wish I was out there with them training, they know I'll be supporting them whatever way I can."
Stanley will begin a long rehabilitation program almost immediately after the operation.
"The Dragons [will] proceed with a two-stage operation that will repair the injured ligament in Kyle's knee," St George Illawarra performance director Andrew Gray said.
"As a result, it will be required that he spend an extended period away from the game."