Idris back and ready to make an impact
After a year in rugby league wilderness, Wests Tigers recruit Jamal Idris doesn't have much longer to wait for his comeback in the game to be officially complete.
While most of the focus is on Robbie Farah taking on his former club, forgotten man Idris is set to line up in the centres for the Tigers, when they take on the Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium on Friday night.
The journeyman will link with his fourth club in nine years and after 131 games playing the top grade, the question was put to the 26-year-old: is he nervous about his return?
"Ask me again on Friday and there might be a couple [of nerves]," Idris said on Monday.
"The trial game [against Cowboys] I was nervous.
"I never get nervous and that’s the funny thing because I remember before the trial game, the week building up to it, everything I did I was thinking about it getting sweaty.
"I went out before the game and my legs were shaking, so, things are getting weird.
"But now it's just excitement, I'm pretty pumped."
The departure of the lovable character at the end of 2015 shocked many who never knew him, and the former Australian representative believes he is a better person for having some time away from the game and travelling to some of the lesser-privileged countries around the world.
"It was amazing, the world is so big and more people need to take some time off and learn about themselves," he said.
"I'd like to think I'm a better person. Everyday you grow and everyday you learn."
"I've almost had two years off so it's going to take a lot to get back into it and that’s going to come over time so it may take five rounds or it may take ten.
"I've just go to sit back and do the best I can"
On the football side of things Idris is confident in his ability to perform in first grade, and with many questioning the fitness aspect of his game, the former Panther was quick to assure everyone he would handle the rigours of a full match each week.
"I can 100 per cent [play 80 minutes]; the game is the easy part," Idris said.
"Training is so hard and every player trains harder than they actually play.
"Don’t get me wrong, there's a lot of scenarios in the game where there is going to be questions asked [of fitness] when you're dying out there on the field, but you just got to work for your boys.
"I had a good pre-season so I'm happy with that.
"The first three weeks are going to be massive for me. I need to get back in touch with the game after two years out."
Former centre Chris Lawrence is confident in his new teammate's ability to return to top form and add some size out wide to create options for promising halves pairing of Mitchell Moses and Luke Brooks.
"Definitely, there's no reason why he can't," Lawrence said.
"Since he's been here he has been training the house down. Not knowing what he was like at previous clubs but he definitely feels like he's got a new attitude and been really committed with us.
"Obviously you can see he's dropped quite a lot of weight and I think that’s starting to show on the training field with what he's doing with the ball and also his fitness as well.
"He's definitely a character, good fun to have around the place and always keeps it light hearted."
As far as rivalries go, it is no secret one has built between the Bunnies and Tigers courtesy of the Farah departure over the off-season, however Idris wasn't keen to get involved, and even admitted to having a soft spot for the South Sydney club.
"I learnt when I was playing at the Bulldogs that rivalry builds culture," Idris said.
"I never used to hate any team and then when I started at the Bulldogs there was a genuine hate that just got bred in you.
"When we played against Parramatta, you literally hate them and I still do now.
"I used to love Souths. I remember before they re-entered the competition, sitting at my uncle's place watching them.
"I've got a soft spot for Souths but I'll turn that off for 80 minutes."