Micheal Luck will end a frustrating 258-day wait between games when he makes his much-anticipated return for the Warriors against Cronulla on Saturday night.
The 220-game veteran was yesterday named on the bench in another fillip for the Warriors just hours after their confidence-boosting 30-16 win over Penrith, only their second success on the road this season.
However, although there was positive news for Luck, there was another injury setback with hooker Alehana Mara ruled out for six to eight weeks after x-rays revealed he had broken his right fibula in the opening minutes of the match.
Mara played on for a few minutes before utility Lewis Brown came on to take over in the dummy half role for the last 62 minutes.
Head coach Brian McClennan named Brown to start at hooker against the Sharks with first-choice Nathan Friend still unavailable after breaking his jaw against Brisbane on May 5.
Luck, who hasn't played since the club's NRL grand final encounter with Manly last October 2, was elated about being able to return for his 145th game for the club. "It's such a relief to be able to get out on the field after all this time.
"The last few months have been hugely frustrating so just being back in full training with the boys has been exciting and to now have the chance at last to play again couldn't be better. I can't wait for Saturday night."
Luck has had four operations since October. He was initially booked in for post-season surgery to repair a severely damaged finger and had another operation at the same time when it was discovered he had broken his wrist in the grand final.
More surgery was needed at Christmas after he aggravated a shoulder complaint that had troubled him for the best part of two seasons.
As he was recovering from that, he suffered yet another setback in February when it was revealed his left wrist hadn't healed properly, forcing him back into the operating theatre for a bone graft operation and a severely delayed start to his year.
Toyota Stadium, 7.30pm Saturday
Isaac De Gois
Paul Gallen (c)
Cronulla: Andrew FIfita, Wade Graham, John Morris, Mark Taufua, Sam Tagataese, Chad Townsend.
S Mannering (c)
Warriors: Russell Packer, Steve Rapira, Micheal Luck, Jacob Lillyman.