Injured Kangaroos winger Josh Mansour has thanked teammate Blake Ferguson for helping him through the difficult times after he ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament while in England for the Four Nations.
The Penrith, NSW and Australia winger suffered the injury at the end of a light-hearted game of touch football at training just days before the match against the Kiwis in Coventry.
Mansour had played a starring role in the first-up win over Scotland, running for 256 metres, scoring two tries and notching a whopping nine tackle breaks.
The injury was a devastating blow for the 2016 Dally M Winger of the Year, who was set to go on his honeymoon following the tournament.
Understandably devastated by the news he would be sidelined for at least the next six months, Mansour said fellow winger Blake Ferguson played a key role in helping him through the initial pain.
The bond between the pair was sealed during Sunday morning's win over the Kiwis when Ferguson dedicated his man of the match award to the Panthers star.
"He was my roomie at the time and he really helped me get back on my feet," Mansour said.
"He gave me someone to talk to and he was there when I was pretty down. I was there for him in terms of his game, and to see a fellow winger get man of the match and to play the way he did, I was jumping out of my seat for him – or tried to at least!
"We had a few chats after the game, and the moment he told me that was for me, I was pretty emotional. I'm so stoked for him."
Mansour – who has suffered several injury setbacks over the years – said it wasn't until the following morning that the extent of the injury fully dawned on him.
Instead of kicking stones, he has vowed to return to Penrith next year with the hope of replicating his stunning 2016 form.
"The moment it happened, it didn't really sink in what I actually did," he said.
"It was kind of the next morning when I woke up, I was in the room by myself and I was just surrounded by thoughts. It was pretty tough, but I've accepted it now, I'm moving on and I'm just on the road to recovery.
"It was no one's fault. It was a freak accident, and you know what, these things happen. There's no point trying to think about it. I've just got to get back on my feet and really get this knee going again."
It remains unclear when Mansour will be operated on as he hasn't been given clearance to fly back to Australia, but the 26-year-old is hoping it will be sooner rather than later.
"I haven't really penned in a date. I would like it to be next week when I go into surgery, but at this point in time I'm not really fit to fly out of here," he said.
"There's a big chance of blood clotting and the swelling is pretty bad at the moment. The team here – the medical team especially – is going to work hard, and I'll be working hard on it, so hopefully by the end of the week I'll be out of here."
While there is no return date set in stone, Mansour said he was hoping to be available for the Panthers in the middle of the season to help them launch an assault for another finals charge.
"I'd like to think in my head mid-year, probably June, but with this injury you can't really rush it and you can't put an exact date on it," he said.
"It depends on recovery and rehab, and mentally and physically I'll know when I'm ready. I'm sure Penrith will do all in its power to get me on the field."
This article first appeared on NRL.com