Injury-plagued Canterbury star Kieran Foran knows some people will find it hard to swallow, but he's adamant his best football is still in front of him.
After spearheading the Bulldogs resurgence over the last eight NRL rounds, former premiership-winner Foran is beginning to show signs of his sparkling best which helped establish him as one of the game's best playmakers earlier in his career.
Foran was instrumental in the Bulldogs' 12-6 upset of Parramatta on Thursday night, digging deep into the line and controlling the tempo of the game with his kicking.
He has been a driving force behind the club's post-Origin surge which has seen them win six of their last eight.
Since moving to Parramatta in 2016, Foran has been beset by injury and he has been restricted to just 24 games since joining the Bulldogs last year due to foot, hamstring and ankle problems.
It's been eight years since Foran took Manly to their 2011 grand final win over the Warriors and some have wondered whether he was a spent force, and if he would see out his deal which is due to expire next year.
However, the 21-Test Kiwi veteran was bullish that not only could he get back to his best, he could take his game to another level.
"I believe my best footy is still in front of me," Foran said.
"That's probably a hard thing for people to hear considering the injuries I've had.
"You've got to remember I'm only 29. When you're talking about halfbacks and five-eighths, they're probably not playing their best football until they're 30, 31.
"Providing I stay on top of my body and keep working really hard, I feel mentally and physically fresh enough that hopefully my best years are still ahead of me."
Over the last year, Foran has been subject to several rumours that the Bulldogs were looking to offload him from his $1.2 million deal.
However he said the club insisted there was no truth to them and he has never had conversations with Bulldogs management about him potentially leaving.
"I don't look into it," Foran said.
"Things get said and that's just part and parcel of the game we play. The club's been completely up-front and honest with me, they've shut it down, they're putting belief in me.
"I'm a realist too, it's been really frustrating. I've played played 22-odd games in the last two seasons. It's frustrating for them and frustrating for me.
"All I can I can focus on is what's in my control and what's in my control is staying on the footy field."
Australian Associated Press