Canterbury Bulldogs teenage sensation and future NRL superstar Karl Oloapu has spoken for the first time since undergoing career-threatening spinal surgery.

Before the start of the Pacific Championships, it was surprisingly revealed that Oloapu played through most of the 2023 season in pain and had to undergo neck surgery, which could see him absent for the entirety of the 2024 NRL season.

It would become evident when he was rested from certain games through the back end of the year as the Bulldogs attempted to manage a player for whom they had long-term plans in place.

Now, after undergoing delicate surgery on Tuesday, the 18-year-old has broken his silence on the whole ordeal and, in particular, the surgery that can see him continue playing rugby league.

“I was just so stoked when I woke up from surgery,” Oloapu told The Sunday Telegraph.

“I'm feeling good. I was hoping that the surgery went as well as it did. The doctors are very happy and I'm grateful that Dr Winder took care of me.

“I just want to thank my family, my girlfriend (Ali) and my handsome manager (Matt Adamson).”

Having praised the expertise of the renowned Dr Mark Winder - one of Australia's leading neurosurgeons - he declared his main goal is to get back onto the field.

Per the publication, the youngster has been told that he can begin his six to nine-month rehabilitation process within the next fortnight and will start with light exercises to regain his strength.

“Getting back onto the footy field is the biggest goal,” Oloapu added.

“But I'm going to take it step by step, day by day and see how we go.

“I don't want to rush anything or do anything too quickly.”

His rookie NRL season came after a controversial off-season move from the Brisbane Broncos, where the Bulldogs paid big money in a transfer to secure his services.

The Bulldogs are understood to be fully behind Oloapu, who is on contract with the club until the end of the 2026 campaign.

“For an 18-year-old to go through something like that, it's pretty daunting and Karl has been pretty nervous about (surgery),” Ciraldo told SEN radio.

“But the only thing in our mind is getting him back to full health.

“He's a lovely kid, a really family guy and someone we're really rallying around at the moment to get him back to full health.”