FORMER Knights pivot Ryan Stig still harbours dreams of returning to the NRL despite spending almost two years battling a mystery illness.
Stig burst into first grade in 2011, playing in 13 top-grade games, including Newcastle’s loss to Melbourne in the opening round of the finals.
The elusive five-eighth showed enough potential to earn a two-year contract extension from incoming coach Wayne Bennett but has not played since, after contracting a blood clot behind his eye and an auto-immune illness that remains undiagnosed.
Stig, who turns 24 on Thursday, told the Newcastle Herald yesterday that there had been days when he struggled to simply get out of bed.
But he was hopeful doctors were close to pinpointing his exact condition and providing a pathway to normality.
‘‘I remember when it first came on, I just wasn’t myself at training and was feeling tired all the time, and then it just progressed further and further,’’ he said.
‘‘I was just getting sicker and sicker and sleeping heaps. I did test after test after test and there was nothing showing up.
‘‘I’m still waiting for some tests to come back and I’m pretty sure we finally know what the problem is. But I’d prefer not to comment until we have something definite.’’
The Australian Schoolboys representative was ‘‘hopeful’’ he could resurrect his career.
‘‘I definitely haven’t given up on it,’’ he said. ‘‘I haven’t played since I was 21, but my body is still relatively young ... if I get better – and there’s no certainty with that – I’d still like to get back out there one day. But that’s the least of my worries at the moment. I just want to get back to doing life again.’’
He said two things had helped him cope with the turmoil and frustration of the past two years – his faith and his wife, Ang, who is expecting their first child.
‘‘Knowing that God didn’t do this to me, and he cares for me and wants me to get better, has been massive. When God brings you through stuff, you hang to that, and I believe he’s going to do it again for me.’’