Injury hell steels Kyle for toughest road ahead

RUGBY LEAGUE 

Surviving a couple of weeks of pre-season training may not sound like much, but for Kyle Stanley he thought he would never even be at this point.

He knows the cynics have marked his cards after a fourth knee reconstruction.

Critics suggest the speed will never return in those legs, which have spent more time on operating tables than his place of employment in the past couple of years.

They may struggle to see him fitting into a Dragons backline, at least on paper, laden with talent in 2014.

But the softly-spoken Stanley, 22, only needs utter few words before you get an idea of what's driving him this time around.

"I've just got to get out there to show everyone I can still play," he told the Illawarra Mercury almost 17 months after last pulling on the Red V.

"After the first stage of the operation I never thought I would get back to where I am now.

"It's nice to know I've pushed through the other end and I'm now the strongest I've ever been throughout my whole body.

"[The speed] is a work in progress. I've been out for a long while and the speed is slowly getting back to where it was. I've just got to keep working hard on that area."

It's what he's been doing ever since teaming up with Gerard Beale as the pair plotted recoveries from their serious knee injuries along similar timelines.

Stanley described the New Zealand international as a "good friend", with their fiancees also becoming close.

And while Beale is likely to slide into the centres to accommodate Josh Dugan at fullback, Stanley's caught in a logjam of halves seeking to partner marquee signing Gareth Widdop.

Canberra recruit Sam Williams was signed to jockey for the No 7, which also has other candidates in Josh Drinkwater and Michael Witt.

Adam Quinlan is also seeking a permanent spot in the top 17.

"I think it's going to bring the best out of all of us," Stanley said of the myriad of halves options at coach Steve Price's disposal.

"It's good for the team, having that sort of competition as well.

"We've acquitted ourselves well and last year we didn't have as much depth as we've got now."

Stanley dare not think about a return date too much after the trauma of not making it to the start line for the last pre-season, but he's in the race this time and only quietly passes over the trials as an intended check point.

"All I'm trying to focus on is getting through this pre-season first," he said.

"My next goal is to play the trials if I can. Whenever it is, I just can't wait to get out [on the field]."

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