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Panthers centre Waqa Blake.

Waqa Blake missed a large chunk of the Telstra Premiership season with a high-grade syndesmosis injury, where his leg bone shifted off the ankle bone because the ligaments holding the two in place were damaged.

Blake hurt his ankle in the round five win over the Eels and did not return for the Penrith Panthers until the round 17 win over the Warriors.

The 23-year-old had no doubts he would recover from the injury. The fear came as he wondered if he would return in as good a form as when he left.

"Overcoming that injury has been a big thing for me," Blake told

"I was a bit nervous coming back from it but as soon as I jumped back in, the boys were flying and sitting in the top-four. So I just joined them for the ride.

"It was pretty tough but I remained pretty positive throughout. We've got great physios here, great strength and conditioning staff.

"They got me on the park quicker than I thought. I haven't had a problem with it since then."

Thankfully the sharp-running centre's standards haven't dropped.

When he injured his ankle, he had scored four tries in five games.

Since returning Blake has kept up the pace of his strike rate with eight tries in 10 games.

"Sauce (Josh Mansour) came back from a big injury (a fractured cheekbone) the same time, and so did Jimmy Maloney and Viliame Kikau so it's been a big year for us fighting to keep up near the top of the table," Blake said.

"I fed off all them doing what I was trying to do – get back and do my job as good as I did before I left."

Blake was looking forward to opposing Sharks centre Josh Dugan in Friday night's semi-final at Allianz Stadium since the pair have been ships in the night this year.

In the round seven win by the Sharks at Southern Cross Group Stadium, Blake was out injured while in the return round 18 game at Penrith Stadium, Dugan was out injured.

However Dugan has again been ruled out, this time with a shoulder injury preventing him from taking part in Friday's match.

"I had played him before but only at fullback so I was looking forward to marking up on him at centre. It would have been the first time," Blake said.

Still, Blake is after a prize and he doesn't care who is in his way as he tries to get it.

Having won the 2013 Under-20s premiership and the 2014 Intrust Super Premiership with the Panthers, he is after an NRL ring to complete his triple crown.

"That would be massive. This is my second time in the NRL finals, so we'll see how we go," he said.

"There's a few guys from the NSW Cup team who I'm still playing with like Isaah Yeo, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.

"So that does help. It's a different style of footy in the NRL but being familiar with some of your teammates for so long makes it feel easier, when you're in those big do-or-die games."

Blake says the season has had its up and downs – most notably losing head coach Anthony Griffin six weeks ago. But he said there is a spirit within the team that can't be torn apart.

"We all buy into the same thing, we all want the same thing, we all roll as one," he said.

"So when we're playing well you can definitely see how we gel together – how good we get on together because it comes out in our football."

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