Mitchell Pearce is hopeful his history as a quick healer will see him back on the paddock for Newcastle within 10 weeks after initial fears a pec rupture had ended his season.
The Knights' highest paid player will go under the knife this week after hyper-extending his pectoral tendon late in a thrilling 22-20 win over Wests Tigers in Tamworth.
The club's initial prognosis has Pearce out for four months, with a return in the last month of the regular season.
But speaking to local radio station KOFM Newcastle on Monday, Pearce revealed he was eyeing a 10-week lay-off, which would have back in the frame by July.
"Worse case is four months, so 16 weeks. I've spoken to other guys ... Boyd Cordner from the Roosters is a good mate of mine, he did a similar injury that was 10 weeks. Daniel Tupou is out for 10 weeks," Pearce said.
"It just depends how you heal. I'm obviously going to think about the best case and that's 10 weeks.
"I'm going in for the operation tomorrow then I can get stuck into rehab. I've generally been a good healer."
Pearce barely missed a game through injury during his decade at the Roosters, with his only lengthy stint on the sidelines due to an eight-game suspension for off-field indiscretions in 2017.
With the standalone rep weekend falling in late June, Newcastle's round 16 clash with Canterbury on June 30 lines up with Pearce's 10-week recovery goal.
The Knights bye is however scheduled a week later, making round 18's trip to Parramatta a more likely return date, a scenario that would still almost certainly rule out a NSW Origin return for game three on July 11.
Pearce admitted the timing of his injury left him "gutted" as Newcastle's upset of the Tigers shot them into the top eight ahead of Friday's clash with the struggling Sea Eagles.
"I'm pretty angry, I'm pretty disappointed," Pearce said.
"But I'm co-captain of the club so I'm going to make sure that I'm getting in there and doing as much as I can during the week and still doing lots of hands on stuff.
"I've got confidence in the boys that we can keep winning. If we can keep getting some wins and I get back at the back end of the year I'll be happy with that."
Match: Wests Tigers v Knights
Round 7 -
Venue: Scully Park
- Fox League
- LIVE PASS
Speaking on Saturday night after the Tigers upset, coach Nathan Brown was adamant the team would remain upbeat despite Pearce's absence, with young halves Brock Lamb and Connor Watson in line to join Jack Cogger in the halves against Manly next week.
Watson returned to training last week and was a genuine chance of making an early return from a shoulder injury against the Tigers.
"It's obviously not a great thing; when anyone loses their halfback and one of their best players it's not great," Brown said.
"But we'd like to think with the experience that some of the younger halves have got over the previous few years, we feel our squad's stronger, we can overcome these things.
"It's always a challenge when you lose good players but if we're going to get to the stage that we want to as a club we may have to manufacture a few things – JB (Buhrer) went in there today and came up with a kick play that came off the back of some good hard work from the team.
"Each time we go into a game you've got to believe you're a good chance of winning. When you do believe that you give yourself a good chance.
"We've got Connor coming back next week, Brock played reserve grade today, JB filled in today and did a good job in the last six or seven minutes, and came up with the kick.
"We've got to go into the Manly game full of confidence, that's what we've got to do."