Ryan Stig said he was “pinching” himself as he prepares to continue his incredible comeback to rugby league in France next month.
The 28-year-old former NRL player, who recovered from life-threatening Lyme disease, has signed with the Limoux Grizzlies in the country’s Elite One Championship.
“I’m definitely pinching myself,” Stig told the Newcastle Herald.
“I’m pinching myself that I’m even playing again, let alone going overseas to play.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but for a long while I didn’t think I would be able to [because of my illness].
“It’s probably not the most conventional way to get it done, with everything that’s happened, but at least I’m doing it now.
“I’m really thankful the opportunity has presented itself. I couldn’t be happier.”
Stig and his family depart Warners Bay in the coming weeks and it follows a campaign for Newcastle Rugby League club Western Suburbs.
The playmaker also lined-up for the Knights in a few NSW Cup games after training with the squad in the pre-season.
This marked the Australian Schoolboy representative’s return to the field after being sidelined for six campaigns.
He made 13 NRL appearances for the Knights in 2011.
Stig’s coach at Wests, Matt Lantry, said it was a “massive achievement” for the Morpeth Bulls junior to simply be back in the middle.
“It just shows how dedicated he is,” Lantry said.
“To get himself right. And not just physically, but mentally as well.”
Lantry said he was unsure if he would get Stig back in 2019 post French commitments.
“If he is back in Australia we would welcome him back for another venture at Wests,” Lantry said.
“But his priority right now is overseas and when he finishes he will have a chance to travel with his family, especially after what he has been through the last six years.
Stig said he was “looking forward” to the challenge with Limoux and wants to play on a more regular basis after missing several matches this season with rib injuries.
“I didn’t play as much as I would have liked this year,” he said.
“It was a bit disappointing with the ribs. But that’s footy, that’s life. There’s ups and downs and I’ve had plenty of them.
“Outside of that my body actually feels really good. And now after a few weeks off I’m fresh and ready to go.”
The League One Championship starts on November 24 with Limoux away to title holders SO Avignon.
Stig will follow on from fellow Hunter product Joel Edwards at the Grizzlies, who were beaten 30-28 by Avignon in the 2017-18 grand final after winning the previous two deciders.