KNIGHTS playmaker Ryan Stig is keeping the faith.
Stig, who turns 23 today, is still waiting for a medical clearance to resume his career after being diagnosed with a blood clot in his right eye in April.
Doctors cannot assure the Morpeth Bulls and Nambucca Roosters junior that he will play rugby league again, but he refuses to entertain that possibility and is determined to rejoin his teammates at pre-season training this month.
A devout Christian, Stig is off contract at the end of 2013 but is driven by the belief that he will return to the NRL stage next year so he can earn a new Knights deal.
"Medically, the blurriness is still there, but on the scan it's improved and the inflammation has gone out of it. But it's still a bit blurry because there's stuff sitting in the way of my central vision," Stig told the Herald yesterday.
"It's probably still indefinite at the moment, but it's one of those things they don't know too much about anyway. Like I've said before, they've sent it to every doctor under the sun, and they sort of don't really know how it's going to respond.
"But you know me, and you know what I stand for, and I'll stand in faith and keep believing that it's going to get better.
"Obviously it's a pretty crap situation and last year sucked a fair bit, but I try to live by what the word of God says, and if it says that I'm going to get better, I'm going to stand on that until I don't have a contract any more."
After making a strong debut among 13 appearances in 2011, the sweet-stepping Stig did not play an NRL game this year.
He complained of blurred vision after a NSW Cup game against Manly in March, and after spending four days in hospital for a series of tests, he was told he had a blood clot in his right eye and doctors warned him to avoid all significant physical contact.
Stig has been under the care of Dr Peter Davies, the founding ophthalmologist at Newcastle Eye Hospital, and is now waiting for him and the club's medical staff to agree on a clearance.
"He's been really good and they've all been really helpful," Stig said. "Everyone's done all they can to help me, but it's one of those things the doctors can't do too much about, so I've just been sending the prayers upstairs."
In the absence of Stig and captain Kurt Gidley, who underwent reconstructive shoulder surgery in May and was restricted to five games, Knights coach Wayne Bennett had little option but to persevere with a halves combination of Jarrod Mullen and Tyrone Roberts.
Gidley is back in the mix for next season, and Stig wants to be, but he knows he must remain patient rather than plan a possible return date.
"Honestly, that's probably the furthest thing from my mind at the moment, but once I get healthy and get everything moving again, then I'll start worrying about that. I believe there will come a time when we are talking about that, but just not yet."