Scott Drinkwater's ill-timed injury could see him leave Melbourne in search of a starting NRL fullback jersey.
The 22-year-old was anointed as retired star Billy Slater's likely successor however he's been sidelined since suffering a pectoral injury during a pre-season game.
In his absence Jahrome Hughes has hardly put a foot wrong in the No.1 jersey while youngster Ryan Papenhuyzen has dazzled with his limited opportunities.
Desperate for a start after four years in the Storm system, Drinkwater, who is originally from the NSW Central Coast, will test free agency having opted out of a player option for next season.
Hopeful of making his return in the Queensland Cup for Easts Tigers on June 1, Drinkwater said it had been a frustrating time.
He said he was trying to focus solely on making a successful comeback rather than his contract situation.
"Right now I am not all that focused on where I am going to be, I just want to play footy," Drinkwater said.
"I am itching to get out there as it has been a long 11 weeks.
"I just want to get back and fit, play some good footy and put those boys under some pressure and see what happens from there."
He said he was initially shattered after tearing up the pre-season to stake his claim for Slater's jersey but his mental state improved once he got out of rehabilitation and on to the training paddock.
Despite the competition for the fullback role, Drinkwater was happy to see his teammates flourishing.
"They are killing it aren't they ... it's good to see," he said.
"People weren't really talking about Paps (Papenhuyzen) during the pre-season and he has come out firing when he has got the opportunity.
"Jahrome has got Paps on his tail and when I come back I will be trying to do the same thing."
Australian Associated Press