Kieran Foran can return to the kind of form that made him a premiership winner and one of the game’s best five-eighths, according to former coach Des Hasler.
Foran continues to firm as a chance to make his return against old club Manly and Hasler when the NRL resumes in round three, as he overcomes a shoulder injury.
Originally expected to be out for close to the whole season after being injured when playing for New Zealand last year, Foran is now back in contact training.
If he does play, it will mark Foran’s 200th in the NRL.
But after barely missing a game for Manly after his debut in 2010, Foran has played just 52 in the four-and-a-bit years since leaving.
In that time he has been dogged by hamstring, back, ankle, toe and shoulder injuries.
He has also set up just 34 tries in the past four years, compared to 59 in last three seasons at Manly between 2013 and 2015.
And while still only 29, Hasler believes the Kiwi five-eighth’s best can still be ahead of him.
“With the time he has had away there is still plenty of footy left in him,” Hasler said when asked if Foran can return to his best.
“The injuries he has had, any rugby league player is a chance of getting them.
“There is a lot of footy left in Kieran Foran. He is just such a competitor.
“People don’t quite understand how mentally strong he is. He has been through a bit. He is certainly resilient.”
Hasler arguably knows Foran better than any other coach in the NRL.
He handed him his debut at Manly, and coached him to a title success alongside Daly Cherry-Evans in the halves in 2011.
He also threw him a lifeline at the end of 2017 in the form of a big-money deal at the Bulldogs, before being axed as coach before being able to reunite with him.
Foran is off contract at the end of this year, and now faces the biggest season in years as he attempts to rebuild his career.
“It’s great to see Kieran at 100 per cent,” Hasler said.
“They will need him. He is a really great addition to any side, but particularly the Bulldogs. He is a great player and one we will have to watch carefully.”