MATT Scott has no intention of following his fellow Cowboys co-captain Johnathan Thurston into representative retirement, but hopes missing virtually all of 2017 with a serious knee injury will extend his career.
The veteran of 22 Origins for Queensland and 22 Tests admits it's a "different feeling" being at Cowboys pre-season training this early after being forced to watch Australia's victorious World Cup campaign from the sidelines.
Despite busting his anterior cruciate ligament in round two against Brisbane, the 32-year-old has no plans to give up his maroon or green and gold jerseys.
It would be music to the ears of Queensland coach Kevin Walters, who is already facing life without champion halves Thurston and Cooper Cronk.
"Hopefully (I'll play rep football), it all depends on how I'm feeling physically but I expect if I get through the first quarter of the year of footy and am playing well, hopefully my name comes back into the mix," Scott said.
"I'm nearly back to full training now and after the Christmas break I'll be doing everything, which I'm looking forward to.
"I'm just over nine months (post operation) now so that's pretty much the tick of approval, I should be well and truly ready for the trials and round one."
Scott made headlines when he was named in North Queensland's 21-man squad for the grand final against Melbourne as the Cowboys battled an injury crisis.
Being powerless to help on the field as the Storm secured the premiership has made him hungrier than ever.
"There was a conversation Greeny (Cowboys coach Paul Green) and I had, and it was probably a risk worth taking if we had an injury or two more," Scott said.
"I was only going to play 30 minutes if I had to, and only if someone didn't get through training, we had two or three guys under an injury cloud.
"Who know what it (injury lay-off) is going to do, I guess it could lengthen my career a little bit.
"I did get to go back and work on some fundamentals physically which is always good at this stage of my career, I won't know until we get into the footy.
"If it does lengthen my career, at least it gives me a bit more quality in what I do the next couple of years.
"But it's good to nearly have a full squad back, with nearly everyone on board ... it's a different feeling for myself and JT being here this time of year, but definitely a good one."
Queensland Origin coach Kevin Walters said Scott's return to the representative arena would provide a huge boost to Queensland's prospects of retaining its Origin dominance.
"We really did miss him last year; we did manage to sneak home in the series, but we missed his leadership and dominance through the middle,' he said.
"He certainly looks fit and sharp, so I like the rest of Queensland hopes that Matty hits the ground running next year."
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