Stewart details finger problems http://www.sportal.com.au/league-news-display/stewart-details-finger-problems-224190 So bent out of shape was the middle finger on his left hand, Manly team-mate Jason King almost brought up his dinner and had to leave the table after looking at it as the pair sat down to eat late last season. "Round 1 (last year) I dislocated it and did a bit of damage to the tendons. I had surgery straight after that and had seven weeks off. I came back and about two weeks after I re-did it," Stewart explained during a visit to Manly's Royal Far West home, where he is an ambassador. "Pretty much for the rest of the year it was dislocated. It was the wrong part of the year to have more time off and rehab it. So I did a bit more damage playing with it." After watching King struggle to hold down his food, Stewart knew he needed to act, not only to save his football career but to improve his quality of life. He sought out renowned Sydney orthopaedic surgeon Dr Mark Perko, who came up with an innovative proposal â€“ a prosthetic first knuckle to replace the badly damaged original. "I wasn't in very good shape at all. The joint was pretty badly corroded," Stewart said. "I couldn't even hold my new baby. It was locked up like a swan neck and I couldn't bend it, it was hyper extended. "It's a fake joint (they've put in) ... half ceramic, half plastic. "It was a pretty hard road back. I had my hand in plaster up to my elbow. I didn't think they would get it back to where it was." Asked what the scenario would have been had surgery failed, Stewart was only half joking when he replied: "Chop it off, maybe." Enter hand therapist Heather Taylor. She headed Stewart's rehab plan, helping him to re-learn basic handling techniques. "I was seeing her three times a week for months. Because everything had been stuck out of place for so long it had to be taught again," Stewart said. "There was no grip strength. But between Doctor Perko and Heather they have done an amazing job to get it back to where it is." But just when Stewart thought he'd overcome one problem, another one arose. An old knee complaint flared during off-season training, forcing him to go in for more surgery and delay his start to the season. The representative back-rower won't play until at least Round 7 and possibly longer. "At the end of the season I had a knee operation, just a clean-out," Stewart said. "Then rehabbing back before Christmas I was on target but couldn't get past a certain point. "I managed to do a bit more training and went in to get another operation three-and-a-half weeks ago. "It was a lot of hard work to get back and to be starting from scratch again was pretty frustrating. "I've been in the wars a bit but everything feels great now. "I can't wait to get back out there."