Canberra Raiders star Joey Leilua is set to play again this season after his specialist gave him the all clear to increase his training.
It's a massive boost for the Green Machine in the lead-up to their crucial clash against the Penrith Panthers at Penrith on Sunday.
Ironically, Leilua was struck down by the neck injury on the eve of the Raiders' emphatic win over the Panthers in Wagga Wagga earlier in the season.
He underwent surgery on the bulging disc he injured against Manly at Brookvale in round seven.
Leilua will now meet with the Raiders' physiotherapist to determine the next stage of his rehabilitation and determine a potential return date.
It's believed he could be ready to return to the field with several rounds remaining in the 2019 season.
Stuart spoke to Leilua following his meeting with the surgeon on Thursday afternoon.
"He's obviously relieved to be quite honest in regards to his appointment," Raiders coach Ricky Stuart told The Canberra Times.
"I spoke to him about chatting to him at the back end of the week when he gets back about his thoughts and feelings.
"He's a quite relieved person that there's a big opportunity of him playing again this year now."
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Stuart said when Leilua returns would largely be determined by Leilua after suffering such a serious neck injury.
Whether he could come straight back into the NRL or need to play for Mounties in the NSW Cup was also up in the air.
Confidence will play a big role - something Stuart said Leilua wasn't short on.
It's been a rapid recovery for Leilua, who just a matter of weeks ago posted video of himself bench pressing a barbell without any additional weights on it to social media.
He posted another video more recently of himself lifting weights with his neck.
The boost comes just days before the Raiders' crucial clash against a Panthers side that have won seven straight.
They also have a good recent record against the Green Machine, having won four of their past five encounters.
"BJ's had a very positive response from his specialist today, which is really good news for us to continue and upgrade his training," Stuart said.
"BJ's been training very, very hard and it's great they can keep upgrading the intensity of his training.
"A lot of people have been asking me about BJ's return date and that will all be a matter of BJ making that decision.
"If it's got anything to do with confidence, it's something BJ's not short of.
"From BJ's point of view I'm really happy with the positive response he's got from his specialist. Things have progressed well."
NRL ROUND 19
Sunday: Penrith Panthers v Canberra Raiders at Panthers Stadium, 4.05pm.
Raiders squad: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 2. Bailey Simonsson, 3. Jarrod Croker (c), 4. Michael Oldfield, 5. Jordan Rapana, 6. Jack Wighton, 7. Aidan Sezer, 8. Josh Papalii, 9. Josh Hodgson (c), 10. Sia Soliola, 11. John Bateman, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Joe Tapine. Interchange: 14. Siliva Havili, 15. Emre Guler, 16. Corey Horsburgh, 17. Dunamis Lui, 18. Sam Williams, 19. Royce Hunt, 20. Sebastian Kris, 21. JJ Collins.
Panthers squad: 1. Dylan Edwards, 2. Josh Mansour, 3. Dean Whare, 4. Brent Naden, 5. Brian To'o, 6. James Maloney, 7. Nathan Cleary, 8. James Tamou, 9. Mitchell Kenny, 10. James Fisher-Harris, 11, Viliame Kikau, 12. Frank Winterstein, 13. Isaah Yeo. Interchange: 14. Wayden Egan, 15. Jahrome Luai, 16. Moses Leota, 17. Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 18. Jed Cartwright, 19. Spencer Leniu, 20. Stephen Crichton, 21. Liam Martin.