Andy Bracek insists he will be forever indebted to the Crusaders as he continues his recovery from a serious knee injury.
Welsh international Bracek, 24, penned an 18-month contract with the Crusaders earlier this year.
The former St Helens and Warrington star had been without a club following his release from Barrow.
And after picking up a serious knee injury, the talented backrower feared life on the rugby league scrap heap. He even took a job as a labourer to ensure that regular money was coming in to support his family.
However, Crusaders head coach Iestyn Harris, who worked closely with Bracek with the Welsh national side, was prepared to take a chance.
The club have worked closely with Bracek on his rehabilitation and he is now just a few weeks away from being cleared to return.
And Bracek says he cannot wait to repay the club.
“My recovery is going well,” he said.
“I’m hoping to be putting my hand up in six weeks but a lot of that depends on when I get the ok from the medical staff. That is only part of the battle because I then have to force my way into the team. It doesn’t give me a lot of time to get some games under my belt but I am confident I can do it.
“I cannot wait to get back playing. I’ve gone through a lot of emotions since I’ve been out and it has been one of the most difficult periods of my life.
“I’ve got a young family and I was in a pretty bad place at the start of the year. I didn’t have a club and no-one would touch me because of my injury. I’d gone from earning a good wage at Barrow to wondering where my next paycheck was coming from. I was doing a bit of labouring to get some money and support my family.
“Crusaders came to my rescue so to speak. They took a chance on me when no-one else would and really looked after me when times were tough. Everything is going well at the moment and I’m grateful to the club for giving me another crack at Super League. I’m taking this opportunity with both hands and I’m going to make the most of it. I want to repay the faith all the people at the Crusaders have shown in me.
“I’ve also been a bit smarter off the field. Being out for so long has made me appreciate how lucky I am to play rugby league professional. I’ve been doing a professional trainers course as well whilst I’m here so I’ve got something to fall back on. A rugby league player’s career is short to it’s important that you start to think about life outside the sport.”