Long way back for Lousi
When Sione Lousi busted through four defenders to score the opening try in last Sunday's 54-18 demolition of the Raiders, it felt like years of frustration had disappeared from his mind.
Thanks largely to a number of serious injuries in recent years, the Warriors back-rower has been restricted to just 37 NRL games since his debut in 2010, and spent all of last season on the sidelines with a ruptured ACL.
A late call-up for the Raiders game in the place of the injured Ben Henry, Lousi produced his best performance in a long time and was relieved to get through unscathed.
"It was satisfying… going through the rehab regime can get a bit depressing here, but to get out there and get an early try was really good," the 24-year-old said.
"It has been pretty tough but I guess that's how it goes, that's the way footy is and you have to take it on the chin."
Over the past 18 months the rehab ward at Mount Smart Stadium has become a second home to Lousi, who has managed six games this season in between setbacks, and will start in the second row against the Sharks on Sunday.
"I tore my hamstring pretty badly last pre-season, I came back from that, played a trial and did my knee and was out for a year," he explained bluntly.
"This pre-season I tore both hamstrings and played a bit before doing my knee again. It needed a clean out and I was out for eight weeks."
But through it all the man they call 'Cee' has had plenty of support from people who knew just what he was experiencing.
At the club he partnered up with teammate Henry, who himself has battled serious knee issues of late, while younger brother Sam, who lives with Sione in the family home, has spent much of the year sidelined as well.
"Sam is the same as me, he has been unlucky but is getting back into the stride of things," Lousi said.
"We keep each other on track rehab wise.
"We try and keep each other entertained, you have got to have a bit of fun; you can't be depressed all the time.
"Me and him are pretty tight so that helped out a lot, we haven't got a win together yet in the NRL so that is a goal for us.
"Also me and Benny Henry have been through the same injuries, and when you have someone there beside you at least you are not alone, we push each other through to get our injuries right."
Last week Lousi spent 50 minutes on the park, playing mainly as a back-rower.
Despite limited involvement – running for only 40 metres and making 17 tackles – he was a constant threat on the right edge and did enough to maintain his starting spot for this Sunday's clash at Mount Smart Stadium.
Captain Simon Mannering said Lousi was a welcome inclusion in the side to face a Cronulla pack which is further strengthened by the return of Paul Gallen.
"Bloody oath – Sione is a great player and it was great to see him back in the side," Mannering said.
"He is an awesome player to have out there and I am sure anytime he gets the chance to be fit and play he will be playing in the top grade."