Canberra Raiders hooker Glen Buttriss has had a triple dose of sugar injected into his chest to speed up his recovery from a sternum injury.
Buttriss's month-long absence has allowed Travis Waddell to launch a last-ditch effort to save his NRL career, a comeback tour which will continue in Townsville against the North Queensland Cowboys on Saturday night.
Waddell has retained the No.9 jersey for the fifth straight game, but needs to prove to coach David Furner in the second half of the season that he deserves a new contract.
''At the moment we've asked Travy to concentrate on his form,'' Furner said. ''Matty McIlwrick played quite strongly [against Newcastle] and I think that's where we're at.''
Waddell has played in 12 of the Raiders' 13 games this season - double his tally from last year when the club allowed him to explore his options.
The Raiders have put off contract negotiations with Waddell.
They already have Buttriss, Shaun Berrigan and rookie Matt McIlwrick signed up for next year.
Buttriss and Berrigan (bicep) are both sidelined with injury, while McIlwrick put in an impressive performance off the bench in the 32-16 win against the Newcastle Knights in just his second game in the top grade.
But with Berrigan a chance of returning for Monday week's match with St George Illawarra, and Buttriss expected to be available within two to three weeks, Waddell has a limited window to showcase his wares.
The Raiders were interested in securing the services of premiership winner Matt Ballin, but are resigned to him staying at Manly.
That has opened the door for Waddell, who played alongside current first-grade regulars Josh Dugan, Jarrod Croker and Joel Thompson in Canberra's triumphant 2008 Toyota Cup team.
He began the year jostling for playing time with Buttriss but has become the first-choice dummy-half.
Buttriss hasn't been sighted since being elbowed in the sternum in the opening minutes of a NSW Cup match with Mounties on May 19.
A slower than expected recovery led to him yesterday undergoing a process known as prolotherapy, which involves injecting a sugar solution into the damaged area to stimulate the natural recovery process.
Buttriss was placed in an ultrasound machine as he was given three needles to his chest.
''I can handle a needle, but that busted me today,'' Buttriss said.
''I got one in the middle [of the sternum] which was all right, then two other needles on each side, they hit the spot.
''It sent a whole shock through my body.''
Buttriss struggled to get out of bed or jump in the car without pain after suffering the injury, but he has now progressed to lifting light weights.
Queensland enforcer David Shillington regains the captaincy in the only change for the Raiders, with Dane Tilse returning to the bench and Trevor Thurling the 18th man.
Cowboys forward Ashton Sims has accepted a one-game suspension for a high tackle, with Scott Bolton or Cory Patterson to take his place on the bench.
Furner has promised a much more determined effort from his side after it was humbled by the Cowboys 22-6 in round five.
''The last time we played them we probably didn't respect them, especially at the start of the game,'' Furner said.
''We gifted them some very cheap possession and [five-eighth Johnathan] Thurston attacked that left-hand edge.
''We need to show that sort of passion we showed against Newcastle for the rest of the season.''