The forgotten Knight’s incredible return from the brink

Some players send their entire careers searching for just one game of NRL.

Not all them get to live out that dream.

Former Newcastle playmaker Ryan Stig made it to first grade.

In fact, he played 13 games but in one of the most bizarre and unfortunate stories you'll ever hear of, his career was snatch off him.

Not by injury but by a debilitating illness that could have killed him.

He was blind in one eye, his nervous system shot and immune system near non-existent.

After signing a new two-year-deal, Stig's career was ready to take off before a series of unfortunate events ran him off course.


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First there was a blood clot behind his eye and then chronic fatigue-type symptoms saw his health deteriorate.

"I noticed some blurred vision," Stig told the Our Town Our Team podcast.

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"After training one day I went to check it out. The eye was what initially presented as and doctors were quite perplexed for six to 12 months.

"They did a quite an extensive investigation on neurological issues and blood tests and it all came back normal to them."

Two-years later he diagnosed with Lyme disease.

It's a tick-borne bacterial infection but he never recalls being bitten and his doctors had no answers.

So, when you can't find the answers you're looking for, where do you turn to?


The internet.

A search of the web led him to Mexico, Switzerland and even Germany for treatment.

Some of it was quite radical treatment but most importantly, it worked.

"It was interesting navigating the situation," he recalled.

"I was at a point where I was gradually deteriorating, and I had a young daughter and wife and I'd heard of some people going overseas and getting good benefits out of it.

"I had a doctor in Sydney tell me about hypothermia. I heard some more good stories about a clinic in Switzerland. I was really impressed with that clinic.


"After my first Germany trip, I felt quite good, but I wasn't quite confident enough in my body to jump back into life again. There was still a bit of apprehension, that's when I looked at going back over.

"It was a gradual navigation but going overseas was definitely hopeful."

An Australian Schoolboy in 2007, Stig played his way through the lower grades at the Knights.

He was a standout in the 20s before joining North Queensland feeder team Northern Pride for a season in 2010.

It was after a successful season of Queensland Cup under his belt that he returned to the Knights and his career caught fire.

"It was a whirlwind journey and things spiralled every quickly after that 2011 season," he said.

"The 2011 season was a good one. I felt I'd played some good games in there.


"I played half the year. We made the semi-finals as well. It was a good year for myself. I re-signed with the club for another club (seasons) under Wayne (Bennett).

"I was really excited about the future and after that 2011 season, I had a few surgeries and after I was training for 2012 and I played a couple of games in reserve grade and I was lethargic and flat.

"In hindsight, I was struggling. As an athlete in general, you learn to desensitize your body. I probably wasn't listening to my body."

Turning 29 in November, Stig hasn't given up hope on making a return.

He took a giant step forward earlier this year when he pulled on the red and blue in the ISP NSW competition for the first time in six-years before picking up a rib injury.

"I'd love to play another game or couple of seasons of NRL but we'll just see," he said.

"I haven't been bashed around for the last five or six season which I think works in my favour. We'll see how the year ends and go from there."