Manly coach Geoff Toovey says Richie Fa’aoso is no closer to playing in the NRL again despite recent reports of a miraculous return from a neck injury.

One of the feel-good stories of the year is news to Manly coach Geoff Toovey.

The Sea Eagles mentor admitted reports that his forward Richie Fa’aoso had been cleared to play after suffering a potentially career-ending neck injury 12 months ago was “a good story”.

The Fairfax Media report even claimed Fa’aoso could be available for selection for the NRL minor premiership hopefuls “in coming weeks”.

However, Toovey could not see the premiership-winning prop returning any time soon after recent medical advice unfortunately still rated his injury as “career-ending”.

“The last medical advice we got from the club was that he needs to retire and he can’t do any more contact sport,” Toovey said.

“Until that is cleared up I can’t see him playing – particularly this year.”

Former Tongan international Fa’aoso – now 30 – looked to have played his last game after suffering the neck fracture against South Sydney in last year’s finals series.

His reported medical clearance could not have come at a better time for a Sea Eagles side reeling from season-ending injuries to forwards Glenn Stewart, Jamie Buhrer and Matt Ballin.

However, Fa’aoso’s best mate Jamie Lyon – the Manly captain – said he had not heard from his friend let alone discussed a stirring comeback this year.

“It was a bit of a surprise to hear that,” he said.

“He’s a great bloke, a great mate of mine – but I haven’t spoken to him.”

Manly (2nd; 16-7 record) will look to seal their first minor premiership since 1997 when they line up against Johnathan Thurston’s North Queensland (5th; 13-10) in Townsville on Saturday night.