Returning Raider Nick Cotric has lifted the lid on the injury torment that ruined his 2021 season at Canterbury.
The 23-year-old, who returned to Canberra on Thursday morning after inking a three-year deal with the Raiders, battled toe and shoulder problems which reduced him to just 14 matches for the Bulldogs.
A major toe injury suffered in training ended his season, before doctors discovered Cotric had been carrying a torn labrum in his shoulder which required surgery.
"I snapped the ligament, I did it wrestling and they said if I had surgery I'd be out for 12 months," Cotric said.
"You don't want to have surgery under your foot because you're always using it. Some doctors were just saying don't have it because it can just heal itself and I think that was the best option, so I was lucky I didn't get surgery, I rested that out.
"While I was resting my toe I told them I had a shoulder problem, so they checked my shoulder and I'd torn my labrum so I had to go in and get surgery on my shoulder. I thought that'd be a fairly good opportunity to get the shoulder done so I got that done at the same time.
"All these injuries were from training they weren't even on the field, it was a bit annoying."
Cotric left Canberra after four seasons at the end of 2020 to join the big-spending Bulldogs on a lucrative contract, but Belmore officials offered him the possibility of an early release in a bid to free up salary cap space in the wake of snaring back rower Viliame Kikau and hooker Reed Mahoney for 2023.
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Raiders coach Ricky Stuart was quick to contact Cotric about a return to his boyhood club, and the immediate departure of Bailey Simonnson last week allowed the Valley Dragons junior a fairytale return home.
"Sticky [Stuart] gave me a call up and I get along with Sticky well and when he told me to come back home I thought it was a no brainer because I know all the boys here, all the staff," Cotric said.
"I'm best mates with Emre [Guler] and [Jarrod] Croker's a legend, all the boys here are great. Rapa [Jordan Rapana], he's good man.
"It was tough definitely, packing up everything and going there [to Canterbury] for opportunity.
"It's just some of the things you've got to do. You never know where you're going to be - it's a bit of a rollercoaster ride but that's footy at the end of the day.
"I just want to come back and play good footy, put that green jersey back on and do my friends and family proud. I really think we can do something here at the club."