After 350 days on the sidelines which included shoulder surgery and three muscle tears Broncos centre Jordan Kahu is just keen to make up for lost time.
It was with great pride and relief that the 29-year-old returned to the playing arena in the 28-24 loss to the Dragons on Friday night after last playing in the NRL in round 25 for the Cowboys on September 6 last year.
It was almost two years since Kahu had last played for the Broncos, the club he spent six seasons with before being released to link with the Cowboys last year.
As part of Kahu's deal he had an option to return to Brisbane for 2020 if he could not secure another contract, an option he took up.
"I was saying to a few of the boys the other day that in the Dragons semi-final I played here a couple of years ago [in 2018] I remember running out and it felt like it was my last game," Kahu said.
"I got quite emotional in that game. Looking back on that now I didn't think I'd be able to chuck a Broncos jersey back on. No matter where I go I will always be a Bronco.
"I felt pretty good, just looking around and taking it all in. It had been a good year since I'd played and two years since I'd played as a Bronco so I was pretty excited to get back on the park and chuck the jumper back on."
Match Highlights: Broncos v Dragons
Kahu's odyssey just to get back on the field was a long and painful one.
"I came here with a shoulder issue which I got fixed after the Cowboys season. I pushed myself to get back as quick as I could," Kahu said.
"I was ready just before round one and then I tore my calf. I rehabbed through that and then I tore it again.
"Just when I was ready to come back we had the COVID break so I worked my butt off through that and came back in pretty good shape, then I tore my hammie. I had a lot of hiccups with that one hammie so this point tonight seemed so far away.
"There is a lot of pain I have been through the last 12 months and to finally get here, even though we lost, was good."
Kahu, off-contract at the end of the year, had his family and children on hand on Friday night to watch him and now he hopes the remaining rounds of the year can secure him a new deal.
"It is hard because I have just focussed on this one point of getting back out on the field as a Bronco. It is obviously hard to sort out the future when you are not playing," he said.
"I have got five games to prove myself and that I have still got it and we will see what happens after that.
"I love the Broncos. I never wanted to leave in the first place. I'd love to stay but I have got to show the Broncs that I have still got it."
Brisbane captain Pat Carrigan said Kahu's presence was an inspiration.
"There was a lot to play for with Flay [Kahu] and what he has been through the last 12 months. I think it was 350 days since he'd last had the opportunity to play the game," Carrigan said.
"To have Flay back out there on our left edge was massive, not only with our confidence because of what Flay brings, but also with the talk around the group and our decision making."