CALL it the longest preseason ever. At least that’s how more than a thousand days without NRL action has felt for Dragons giant Mose Masoe.
The 130-kilogram wrecking ball hasn’t played in the NRL since August 31 2013 when he played the last of his 63 NRL games for Penrith.
After two years with Super League club St Helens, Masoe’s first attempt at an NRL return this season was cruelled by an ACL tear just a week out from the Dragons first trial fixture.
Masoe said suffering the injury in an innocuous non-contact running drill so close to the beginning of the season was a tough pill to swallow.
“I was gutted, especially getting injured in the very last session before the trials,” Masoe said.
“It was a pretty dark time for me for a while there.I’d put so much hard work into the preseason to get ready for the NRL again and to go out like that, not even playing a game at all was pretty devastating.
“But now I’m back in the same position as when I first arrived and I’m getting excited again which is good.
“If anything the the desire’s just grown having another year out.
“By the time I get back it’s probably going to be a about a year and a half since I played. I’ve pretty much been away from the NRL for three years.
“It’s going to be good to come back just to try and prove to myself that I’m still good enough to play in the NRL.”
Complications from the initial surgery saw him go under the knife a second time, quashing any chance of an early return in 2016 and keeping him in the rehab group prior to Christmas.
“We tried to add on another little ligament to the side of my leg but my leg didn’t cope with it very well,” Masoe said.
“They were doing the best for me to try and make it more stable but in hindsight it probably set me back a couple of months and that’s why I missed the back end of last year.
“We’ve taken it out now and we’re back to preseason so it’s all good and I’m ready to rip in.
“There’s still a couple of little rehab things I’m doing but I think the medical staff are just taking it easy and being a bit cautious because I’m a bigger bloke. I’ve put on a bit of weight in the off-season and I think they’re just looking after me in that way.
“I’m still getting flogged in cardio but they’re looking after the older bodies now which is good. It’s exciting to be back amongst it and around the boys preparing for another season.”
After a number of seasons watching their under-sized pack get monstered at the hands of heavier NRL rivals, Dragons fans rejoiced when the club landed Masoe’s signature.
Should he make a successful return in 2017 he’ll add his considerable weight to pack that will also include the likes of Russell Packer, Leeson Ah Mau and new recruit Paul Vaughan – meaning the Dragons will be NRL pygmies no longer.
“We’ve got a big team and that’s going to be good for us,” Masoe said.
“Getting Vaughny in there as well is really going to help the team.
“When we play teams like the Bulldogs who are all over 100 kilos it’s going to be good for us as a team to have those bigger guys.
“We’ll be pushing each other hard at training and hopefully we can take that onto the field.”