After 18 months stuck on the sidelines, Saturday's curtain-raiser against the Bulldogs held some extra emotion for Nathaniel Roache.
The 22-year-old was finally back on the pitch after battling back from two career-threatening injuries which had seen him ruled out for 573 days.
But Roache put that all behind him in the Mt Smart players' tunnel moments before his return.
"It was awesome and a feeling that was long-awaited for me," Roache said. "Running out was probably the biggest thing.
"I was telling my family I couldn't wait to run out there and see the crowd and get all the emotion, and it was exactly what I expected.
"I was almost going to cry to myself, to be honest, but then I had a little moment where I smiled [and said], 'Oh, we're back, let's go have some fun'.
"I've been on the sidelines for almost two years, so to be back out there playing was a pretty awesome feeling."
Roache missed the final few rounds of 2017 with a ruptured right Achilles tendon before his entire 2018 season was scratched due to surgery needed on his back to repair his lumbar disc.
But in his return, Roache clocked 56 minutes of play in the No.9 jersey and scored a try as the Warriors smashed the Bulldogs 40-6.
His performance has earned him another start for Sunday's away clash with the West Tigers with positional rival Issac Luke named on the extended bench as he continues rehab from a shoulder reconstruction in the offseason.