Newcastle Knights co-captain Mitchell Pearce is wary about trying to do too much, too soon in his home comeback match against the Parramatta Eels on Friday night.
The former NSW State of Origin halfback has been sidelined since round seven with a pectoral injury, and said one of the dangers when playmakers are out of action for too long is they tend to try to rush their return to form.
"I think as a halfback when you have been out, there is a tendency to sometimes feel that you have to come up and do too much," Pearce said.
"But I am a bit older now, and I would like to think that I know what a solid game is for me and my job for the team, above anything is to bring a good kicking game and direction."
Pearce is confident he has done everything he can to test it out on the training field and will be raring to go in what is a crucial match for the club's slim finals chances.
Newcastle have just won two matches since his injury in late April, but are just four wins outside the top eight.
Personally, it will be a chance for Pearce to prove himself in his first season at the Knights, after so much hype was made about his arrival.
"It's been tough coming to a new club and not playing, you feel like you've let everyone down," the halfback said.
"Your job is that you get paid to come here and play, so it's been disappointing not playing.
"But I get the opportunity over the next eight weeks to finish the year strong, and do my part for the team."
Knights v Eels - Round 18
Pearce will resume his partnership with five-eighth and "good mate" Connor Watson, in what coach Nathan Brown is hoping will be the team's permanent halves pairing.
While it has been tough for Pearce not playing, he admits that he has learned a lot about himself as both a player and a person during the rehab process.
"When you have a time out, you watch the game from a different perspective – you pick up on little things as a halfback," Pearce said.
Pearce said the club was also focused on getting a win for debutant Nick Meaney, Nick Meaney, who is making his first grade debut at fullback in place of the injured Kalyn Ponga.