'Nervous' Foran a standout in Warriors debut
Much had been made of Kieran Foran's long-awaited return to the NRL Telstra Premiership with the Warriors, and on Sunday afternoon against the Gold Coast Titans he didn't disappoint.
10 months and three days since he last played a competitive game of rugby league, Foran slotted in seamlessly for the Kiwi outfit in a come-from-behind 28-22 victory over the Gold Coast Titans in Round 5.
A try, 123 running metres and two line breaks marked a strong return for the 26-year-old, who admitted last week's false start – when a hamstring injury suffered in warm-up prevented him from playing against the Dragons – had made his Mt Smart Stadium return all the more daunting.
"I was pretty anxious leading up to today's game, I just wanted to get the first game over and done with and now I can really focus on the season," Foran said.
"Once I got the hands on the ball I was fine. Once I got out there, got into the flow of things.
"I was blowing out there, there's no doubt about that… that [fitness] is something that will come hopefully over the next month or so.
"I'm sore, but everything has pulled up reasonably well, the shoulder held up good which I was pleased with.
"The hamstring has pulled up OK so I will just manage it through the week and hopefully build it up with the strength work and be fine for Sunday [against the Eels]."
Despite only just being cleared to return from surgery on a shoulder injury which ended his 2016 campaign with the Parramatta Eels, Foran showed no hesitation in putting on a strong tackle and taking the ball to the line on his opening two plays against the Titans.
On 62 minutes he caused the biggest cheer of the day when he dummied to Ryan Hoffman down the left corridor before darting through to the try-line from 10 metres, for a four-pointer which following Shaun Johnson's conversion saw the Warriors even scores at 22-all.
Post-match the five-eighth described it as a moment he will treasure.
"I just got the ball out the back from 'Shauny' (Shaun Johnson) and sort of went to the line looking for a pass to 'Hoffy' (Ryan Hoffman) and I felt them slide off me," Foran said.
"I just pinned the ears back, it was just nice to break them open and get over the line, it’s always a good feeling."
Meanwhile Johnson heaped praise on his former Kiwi international halves partner, describing his performance as "very impressive."
"He did very well…he came up with that big play to get us back level, taking the line on, that's his best attribute his running game," Johnson said.
"He was very calm, very clear and it's just awesome to have a voice out there which you can sort of bounce back into, I am yelling one thing, he is yelling one thing, we are on the same page with it.
"Me and [Kieran] have been training together for a while now, just building him back into the programme and building him back up to today.
"I am looking forward to spending the year with him for sure."