It's another small step for Canberra Raiders star Joey Leilua as he continues his comeback from a career-threatening neck injury.
Leilua's started neck strengthening exercises as part of his recovery from surgery on a bulging disc.
Joey Leilua progressing through neck strengthening as he continues rehab from surgery on a bulging disc in his neck. Leilua is currently ~ 8 weeks post surgery, surgery type hasn’t been specified but usual best case is a return from 12 weeks+. One to keep an eye on from Rd20 on pic.twitter.com/0amWUkkNzp— NRL PHYSIO (@nrlphysio) July 5, 2019
It's been eight weeks since he went under the knife, with the Raiders ruling him out for the season - but a best case return for similar surgery is 12 weeks.
There's footage of Leilua bent over with his forearms on his knees, a wide strap across the back of his head going down to a kettlebell on the floor.
He then lifts his back up slightly to pick the kettlebell off the floor before lowering it down again.
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said Leilua has been back in the gym for a couple of weeks.
He said they weren't worried about a timeframe for his return, with only focus on "getting his body right".
"He's back doing a little bit of work, Joe, he's been given the OK to do a little bit of training," Stuart said on Saturday.
"He's been doing that for 10-12 days.
"It's good for his routine and his confidence to be back doing a little bit of training, and he's back around the boys, which is good for him."
Leilua's been stuck on 199 NRL games since he injured his neck in the lead-up to the Raiders' win over the Penrith Panthers at Wagga Wagga in round eight.
It's good for his routine and his confidence to be back doing a little bit of training.Ricky Stuart
The 27-year-old had been picked to play, but could barely move his neck when he woke up on game day and was subsequently diagnosed with a bulging disc.
Canberra were back training at Raiders HQ on Saturday, as they prepare to face St George Illawarra at Wollongong next Sunday after a week off for their bye.
"He's in rehabilitation mode at the moment. The most important thing is our high-performance team is bringing him along slowly and trying to give him the best rehab possible in regards to his latest operation," Stuart said.
"It's something we've been rolling along with what the medical people need us to adhere to."
Stuart's had to rejig his right edge to cover for Leilua's absence in the centres.
Michael Oldfield, Nick Cotric and Sebastian Kris have all played in Leilua's usual position.
Cotric's a chance to return to accompany right wing Jordan Rapana, having injured his ankle in the 22-20 win over the Cronulla Sharks at Canberra Stadium three weeks ago.
The 20-year-old trained with the team on Saturday, with Stuart to decide early next week whether he'll bring him back to face the Dragons.
Fourth-placed Canberra are looking to bounce back from their 22-16 loss to the Parramatta Eels last weekend, where they missed the chance to climb to second on the NRL ladder.
The Raiders have only won one of their past six encounters with the Dragons, who have had an inconsistent season so far.
Cotric's return would be a massive boost for the Green Machine, who have had a number of stars out injured over the past two months.
If he does return it will mean suspended forward Hudson Young will be their only major absentee.
Young will be available for the Raiders' round 19 clash against the Panthers at Penrith.
"Nick trained today. He's still in a bit of doubt. I'm not too sure where we're at with him at the moment, but we'll make that decision coming into the early part of the week," Stuart said.
"I'll know more where he's at Monday-Tuesday when we get back into it.
"He did a bit of running today ... he's coming along well though."