He hasn’t even played a minute of first-grade footy and now reformed rugby league bad boy Shaun Metcalf is resigned to the fact there’s a chance he never will.
On a day of celebration for New Zealand rugby league, with Kiwi teams featuring in not only the NRL Grand Final but also the Toyota Cup and New South Wales Cup deciders, Metcalf has little cause to smile.
Earlier in the year, he was controversially thrown a lifeline by the New Zealand Warriors after signing a one-season deal with an option for an additional year.
It was a dream come true for the 24-year-old, who, as a promising development squad player in 2003 along with two team-mates, attacked his then-girlfriend in an attempt to force a miscarriage.
The shocking assault saw Metcalf imprisoned and ended his league career just when it was starting to take off.
Given a second chance after serving his time, Metcalf put pen to paper with the Warriors in late March.
But then disaster struck and not long after he found himself in a hospital waiting room suffering from an inexplicable case of the shakes.
On closer examination, it turned out that his ankle had been infected for almost half a year and he was told he might never play again because of it.
“Man, I’m just devastated,” Metcalf told Sunday News.
“I knew as soon as I found out I had an infection in my ankle it was going to have an impact on my chances of playing first grade. I’ve been so desperate to play first grade for the Warriors and I came so close this year that it makes it all the more heart-breaking, really.
“All of a sudden I don’t even know if I’ll play again.
“I have to have another scan to see how much cartilage damage is done and, if it’s bad, they’ll fuse the bones together and I’ll never play again.
“That will be it. Just as it started it could be all over.”