Dolphins utility Ray Stone had some dark days in his recovery from an ACL injury but is close to full fitness and relishing the prospect of helping his new NRL club prove pundits wrong in their inaugural season.
The 25-year-old suffered a season-ending knee injury in round three this year while scoring the winning try for Parramatta against Melbourne.
He had already signed a two-year deal with the Dolphins when the injury occurred but had to watch the Eels go all the way to the decider.
"I was lucky that I signed the contract when I did," Stone told reporters after Dolphins training on Monday.
"My goal last (season) was to win a premiership with Parra. It was great to see them go as well as they did but hard sitting on the sidelines for most of the year.
"The first two weeks (of rehab) were pretty hard. I was sitting on the couch and getting bored out of my brain. I had my dog and two kids that just wanted to play all the time, but I couldn't.
"Once I got walking and running again, I was half back living normally."
Stone said he would be in full training by January and was on track to be available for the round one match against the Sydney Roosters.
He was the Dolphins' second signing after being identified as what club recruitment chief Peter O'Sullivan likes to call "a Wayne Bennett-style of player".
Stone is keen to prove Bennett's high estimation of his abilities was not misplaced.
"I spoke to him on Zoom once but I don't think the connection was that good. I couldn't really hear too much of what he was saying," Stone grinned when asked about his first chat with the coach.
"I've heard a lot of good things about him ... so I'm definitely keen to see what all the hype is about."
Stone said he relished the utility role he's made his own in his 31-game career. He is excited about joining a squad which is much maligned squad in some quarters, but which boasts plenty of finals experience with Storm premiership winners Jesse Bromwich, Kenny Bromwich and Felise Kaufusi.
"There are a lot of people that know how to play big games and that is something I need to draw off," Stone said.
"With the experience we have in this team across the board I definitely think we can do some damage in the competition.
"If I play lock I am happy. I'll play back-row, hooker, centre ... whatever I get chucked in as, I am happy to do."