Phelps mantra inspires Josh Mansour's recovery
RUGBY LEAGUE: "YOU can't put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get."
These are the 15 words motivating Penrith star Josh Mansour as he strives to return to the field following a serious knee injury.
The 26-year-old was in England with the Kangaroos for the Four Nations when he was involved in an innocuous training collision with Josh Dugan while the pair were performing a drill.
When scans revealed an anterior cruciate ligament rupture, Mansour was faced with his toughest test yet.
"The first couple of weeks were obviously very tough, it was hard to take in," Mansour told foxsports.com.au.
"I just wanted to stay positive and truly believe that whatever you put your mind to, if you really believe in it, you're already halfway there.
"It's a big mental game, especially when it comes to injuries.
"Every day when you get out of bed, you've got a decision to make: do I want to have a good day or a bad day?
"It's a challenge that I have to face and I'm facing it."
It's that optimistic outlook and the 15-word mantra first coined by the greatest swimmer of all-time, Michael Phelps, driving Mansour towards a mid-season return.
Funnily enough when asked, Mansour had no idea it was a quote from the Olympic champion.
"I think I read it somewhere, but I didn't know it was Michael Phelps," the NSW winger laughed.
"I did read it somewhere. I'm not going to lie. I didn't come up with it.
"But it really inspired me and I'd like to think it's been helping me get through my rehab."
Now just over 100 days since his operation, Mansour recently laced on the boots for the first time and hit the training paddock in Penrith.
"I'm up to straight line running in my rehab which I've been doing for (five) weeks now then hopefully I'll start my curve running, so I'll update my rehab schedule then," he said.
"I wouldn't say I'm ahead of schedule, you can't really rush back from ACL injuries.
"The minimum recovery is six months, so at the moment I'm looking at doing the minimum which would be about round 12-14.
"I don't want to give myself any earlier than that, but depending on how I'm doing and if I get the go-head from the surgeon then we'll see.
"I've had no dramas straight line running. I'm starting to do some jumping now, some impact, and it's been going good. The physios and the rehab team are really happy with me."
One person who has noticed the positivity oozing from the powerhouse winger is former Panthers teammate and good friend Michael Jennings.
Jennings went on Mansour's Las Vegas bucks party trip shortly after the 2016 season ended.
"When he came to Penrith, we formed a really good bond," Jennings told foxsports.com.au.
"We're still great friends to this day.
"I've just been checking in with how he's pulling up. He's looking really good. He's just staying really positive.
"He plays a massive role in that Panthers side, so he's just focused on making his comeback."
ACL injuries aren't foreign to Panthers players with Kiwi trio Dean Whare, Peta Hiku and Sam McKendry all suffering the horror knee injury last season, so Mansour had no shortage of people to turn to during his rehabilitation.
"The person I've learnt the most from was Deano," Mansour said.
"We had a similar ACL injury and I'm looking at him now and it's given me some real confidence the way he's been running around the field.
"I've been getting some tips on how to manage it and his feedback has been great.
"He said just to take my time, don't rush things. Don't get too confident with it. Just keep doing my training, keep doing my rehab. Even when it's feeling good, don't get lazy with exercises."