Manly Warringah Sea Eagles winger Jorge Taufua says wanting to make up for lost time and repay his club were the driving forces behind his powerful comeback against Newcastle Knights last Friday.
The 26-year-old Tongan's first top-flight game since he ruptured his ACL in round 13 against Canberra last season saw him gain an impressive 240m from an NRL-high 26 carries in the 89-minute golden point loss at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Taufua admitted to some nerves ahead of his return in a trial match against the Sydney Roosters recently but said those had faded by the time he ran out against the Knights.
"To get through the 85 minutes or whatever, it was pretty relieving, but unfortunate with the loss," Taufua said.
"I was definitely more nervous for the trial than I was going into this game. It kind of settled a bit of the nerves going into last Friday night's match. It [the knee] is not too bad.
"There's a whole lot of things I have to go through in the mornings to get ready for the day. It's feeling all right, it pulled up sweet so looking forward to Sunday [against Parramatta]."
Taufua said there is no reason he can't get back to the form that had him spoken about as a Blues wing contender not so long ago.
"I'm only one game in. I've got to keep my body and myself on the paddock as much as I can," he said.
"The last four or five years I've played half a season each year through different injuries. It happens in league. The goal is to play as many games as I can this year."
Since playing 23 and then 26 games in his first two seasons in 2012 and 2013 respectively, Taufua has since been restricted to 16, 17, 18 and then 12 games over the past four years due to a series of injuries including shoulder issues and a broken collarbone.
"It's definitely not easy dealing with those setbacks. I'm very grateful for the support I've had at this club and from my family and friends and also ex-teammates from other clubs that gave me advice and helped throughout the whole process," he said.
While the nerves had settled, there remains an element of doubt in testing out his knee.
"You're not running or walking as you used to, you're not confident in your stepping or what-not but I'm very fortunate with the staff we have here, they gave me a good program that gave me that confidence back," he said.
"It's [not until] a good, solid 12 months post-surgery when you're 100 percent, some people say, I'm nine months post-surgery so it's all going ok at the moment."
Asked about his NRL-high 26 runs, Taufua laughed that it was a strong test for his early-season match fitness.
"I was heaps keen to just do my role for the team. It was a long game and the lungs were definitely feeling it," he said.
"That's what I pride myself on is carrying the ball strong – and catching the ball when I can! – so I guess that's just a typical game.
"Going into it, warm up was pretty good, prep was pretty good so I put myself in a good mindset for the whole game."