DRAGONS skipper Cam McInnes says he'll be more than a hundred per cent fit when he returns to club duty next week, revealing he was set to make an ahead-of-schedule return against Canberra before the COVID-19 lockdown hit.
McInnes was the highest profile casualty of the preseason NRL Nines, picking up a grade three MCL injury that can carry up to 12 weeks on the sidelines.
It saw the Dragons play the opening two games of the season, losses to the Tigers and Panthers, without their skipper ahead of a daunting round-three road trip to Canberra.
McInnes' earlier than expected return would have been a huge boost in what was shaping as a make-or-break clash before the NRL's suspension pulled the rug out from under those plans.
"I was actually meant to be back for round three against Canberra," McInnes said.
"I was doing everything I could to get back, at one stage I thought I might be a chance for Penrith but it just wasn't quite enough time.
"On the Monday after that game we had a training session, our big session for the week, and I got through that no dramas so I was getting ready to play.
"I was good to go then when I got home on Monday, I was just sitting around that arvo, the news update came on and I was pretty filthy.
"It was frustrating but, at the same time, when you put it all in context with everything else that was happening in society, it was the right thing to happen initially but I'm glad we're working to get back out there now."
Obvious frustration aside, McInnes said the added time to fully recover has been a silver lining to isolation, and spared him the difficulties of rehabbing without direct access to medical staff.
"It would've been all right playing [in round three] but it wouldn't have been a hundred per cent," McInnes said.
"The time away has probably been good for the knee to get it a hundred per cent. I haven't needed any hands-on treatment or anything like that so it's just given me time for that natural healing with the training I'm doing and some of the strength work.
"Regardless of winning or losing, it was tough to not be out there playing. The two losses to start the year are not ideal but both of those games really could've been won.
"We've just got to take the positives where we can get them and make sure, once we get back, we're ready to go when things kickoff again.
"I've got the little boy at home who's just turned two so he's keeping me busy, I've been training every day, so there's been a fair bit to keep me occupied but I'm obviously looking forward to starting again."
The NRL continues to push ahead with its plan for a May 28 resumption, locking in a 20-round draw that will culminate with an October 25 grand final on Tuesday - the same day it was forced to sanction big-name stars Latrell Mitchell, Josh Addo-Carr and Nathan Cleary for breaching social distancing protocols.
Addo-Carr and Mitchell were hot with $50,000 fines, more than half of it suspended, for the now infamous camping trip documented on Instagram while Cleary was hit with a $10,000 fine after images surfaced of hims breaching distancing measures on Anzac Day.
None of them will miss any on-field action, with their respective one-game suspensions also suspended sanctions.