Canterbury star Kieran Foran won't be medically retired despite being ruled out for what is expected to be the entire 2020 NRL season.
The 29-year-old five-eighth underwent a shoulder reconstruction on Tuesday night which found "new and additional" damage, requiring a second operation which could sideline him for up to a year.
Foran has averaged just 13 games per year over the past four seasons and is off-contract with the Bulldogs at the end of 2020, but medical reports are expected to confirm he will be able to continue playing in 2021.
It's believed he has also communicated to the club that he wishes to return to the field beyond next year.
However, his contract is worth $1 million, meaning about 10 per cent of the Bulldogs' salary cap will be sidelined through Foran alone in 2020.
Canterbury will apply for salary cap dispensation under NRL rules; a maximum of $350,000 of relief can be granted if a player is injured while on representative duty and misses a minimum of 12 games.
Given the size of Foran's contract, any relief will not cover his salary or a similar replacement, and questions are expected to be raised over an increase to the maximum dispensation available to clubs in this situation.
"We have a lot of paperwork to go through but our initial concerns are with Kieran and making sure he's well looked after as he leaves hospital," Bulldogs CEO Andrew Hill told AAP.
"He'll head home for a week or so and prepare for his second operation. In the meantime, the club will work with the relevant parties in New Zealand Rugby League and the NRL in terms of insurance and salary cap relief."
Foran was injured while playing for New Zealand against Great Britain earlier this month - his first Test appearance for the Kiwis since 2017.
It's a huge blow to the Bulldogs who finished the 2019 season strongly with a fit Foran in the halves, but will now be forced to field inexperienced duo Lachlan Lewis and Jack Cogger.
Canterbury are expecting a full medical report on Foran in the coming weeks with the Kiwi ace to undergo a second surgery on his shoulder in a fortnight's time.
Australian Associated Press