NRL Rd 11 - Bulldogs v Warriors
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 12: Josh Reynolds of the Bulldogs talks to Karl Oloapu of the Bulldogs during the round 11 NRL match between Canterbury Bulldogs and New Zealand Warriors at Accor Stadium on May 12, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Bulldogs teen sensation Karl Oloapu could return to the field as soon as the middle of next year.

The updated timeline of the playmaker's injury comes after his management met with Associate Professor Mark Winder, arranging a possible third option that could be the solution to his problems.

This comes after Phil Gould had already gathered two medical opinions last week.

Winder, a renowned St Vincent's Hospital spinal surgeon, believes that with the correct surgery, Oloapu could return to the NRL field as soon as the middle of next year.

“We went into that expecting that if it was bad news, we would accept that,” said Oloapu's manager, Matt Adamson via the Herald.

“We have been upfront with that right through the process. The way [Winder] articulated things in that meeting to say he was going to be OK is awesome, which has given Karl great hope.

“We don't want to rush it, we've got time on our side,” Adamson added.

“The kid has endured a fair bit in a young career, he's still only 18. There's no need for stupidity in this, we'll take it a step at a time.

“We'll follow the experts' orders and see where it lands us.”

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The publication has revealed in the past that if Oloapu is forced into medical retirement, the Bulldogs will face a $1 million-plus payout from the NRL.

It was revealed earlier last week that he withdrew from Samoa's two Tests in their Pacific Cup tri-series against New Zealand and Australia due to neck pain, and News Corp then reported he may need surgery on his neck.

Also revealed was the fact that Oloapu played through most of the 2023 season in pain. That was evident when he was rested from certain games through the back end of the year as the Bulldogs attempted to manage a player they had long-term plans in place for.

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.