On the eve of his comeback from a horrific facial injury that prevented him from being able to eat solid food, Sia Soliola has revealed the lengths he went to have a takeaway meal.
"I actually tried to blend KFC," the Raiders forward told NRL.com. "It was all soft foods so everything had to be blended. I actually had the idea to blend KFC, pizza, a Big Mac or pretty much anything."
Not that the 34-year-old would recommend it after recovering from surgery that required 20 screws to repair seven facial fractures after a sickening head clash with St George Illawarra prop Blake Lawrie during their round 8 clash on July 3.
The return of Soliola two weeks before the finals is a massive boost to Canberra's premiership hopes as he was initially expected to miss the remainder of the season.
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The former New Zealand and Samoa international has been named in jersey No.21 but Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said after Soliola had volunteered to perform the ball boy duties at last Saturday's 37-8 defeat of the Dragons that he would play this weekend.
For Soliola, his comeback is the achievement of a goal he set himself to play in round 19.
"It was quite a horrific thing that I went through but given the fact that I broke my cheekbone in 2015, when I had to do the drive down from Townsville, and I had broken my arm before I had a little bit of experience with fractures," Soliola said.
"It was my full face but given the experience I had with previous fractures I was quite confident that I could maybe squeeze one or two games in so it is nice when you have a vision and it comes to fruition."
Besides being unable to eat his favourite meals, the hardest part of the 10-week recovery period for Soliola was being around his team-mates when they were preparing for a match but being unable to play.
However, he was able to continue training and maintain his fitness.
"I did lose a bit of weight but I was able to get it back on pretty quick because with this injury – unlike a cheekbone or an eye-socket – I was able to start working quite quickly," Soliola said.
"The only downside was that I couldn't bite, for obvious reasons.
"The first thing I got when I could eat again was a Domino's pizza and then I had a Vietnamese pork Banh Mi. That was good."
He was also pleased by the form of the Raiders during his stint on the sidelines, in which they also lost star hooker Josh Hodgson (knee), winger Bailey Simonsson (shoulder) and forwards Corey Horsburgh (foot) and Emre Guler (ankle) to long term injuries.
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Canberra have maintained fifth place since round 11 and are still a chance of finishing in the top four.
"It is a credit not only to the guys and the work they have been doing but also to the coaching staff in terms of the standards that were required," Soliola said.
"That was something that we addressed once we recommenced [playing].
"We didn’t really know what was going to happen so everyone prepped accordingly and how we needed them to because we have had injuries and the guys that have come up have done a really good job."