Manly star Brett Stewart has been given extended leave as he seeks to overcome a knee injury.
His team mates returned to pre-season training last week but ‘Snake’ is not required back until January 3.
Stewart missed much of the 2016 campaign and was well below his scintillating best when on the park.
The club has described Stewart’s current status as an “extended hiatus” and it is not known if he will play again.
Close friends have said he is eager to return to the field but whether his body is up to the rigours of the NRL remains to be seen.
The 31-year-old helped Manly to the 2008 and 2011 premierships.