INTENSIVE gym work has paid off for Warwick Cowboys forward Ryan Kinlyside, who is back on the field after an absence of two years.
After he finished Year 12 at Warwick State High School, Kinlyside signed up for the Newcastle Knights and headed south to follow an NRL dream.
He impressed in his early games but suffered a serious neck injury and was sidelined for two years.
Kinlyside stayed in Newcastle for the early part of the 2010 season but his neck failed to improve and his specialist told him rugby league was not an option at that stage.
Last season, Kinlyside ran the water for the Warwick A-grade side before being appointed under-18 coach for the 2012 season.
Every coach wants a fit team but, for Kinlyside, it was more than that.
He needed to work hard in the gym to strengthen his own neck before his specialist would consider allowing him to resume his playing career.
That clearance came on Thursday and Kinlyside played off the bench for the Warwick Cowboys in the No19 jersey on Saturday night against Aspley.
While happy to be back, Kinlyside said he wanted to bend the line more.
He hasn't lost his desire to be a professional footballer but knows his journey to the NRL will almost certainly be through the Queensland Cup competition.
"I want to first play a season with my mates at the Cowboys," Kinlyside said.
"I am happy with my fitness but it can always be better."
While in Year 12 at Warwick High, Kinlyside made the Queensland Secondary Schoolboys team which played in the national championships in Newcastle, where he won a players' player award and came to the attention of the Knights.
He signed for two years and was playing in the U20 competition when he was hurt.
As a coach, Kinlyside has one win from one game at the helm of the Cowboys U18 side which beat Aspley 16-10 on Saturday.
He rated Joel Bradfield, Callum Freeman and Morgan Van De Sande as his best players.