Manu is back, and so is that trademark grin. After enduring one of the most difficult periods of his career, perhaps second only to the weeks following the infamous Parramatta display in 2007, the popular winger made a strong return in last night's 36-18 win over Brisbane.

Vatuvei ran with purpose all night, and some trademark charges laid the foundation for the Warriors' territorial dominance in the first half. It was impressive stuff, especially with the focus on him before the match.

Vatuvei hadn't played since the 42-0 loss to Melbourne and the infamous 'gang of six' episode that followed, and was feeling the pressure ahead of his first game in more than a month.

"I was nervous the whole week," said Vatuvei. "I tried to keep a straight face the whole time but when I got home I was telling the family how nervous I was ... but they said it was a good thing. I was happy to get my first carry out of the way and everything went off that."


It wasn't a vintage display - there were a couple of errors and hesitation led to Jordan Kahu's try - but he did his core job well. An example of his impact came in the lead-up to the Warriors' second try. The team were being driven backwards near their own line, before a Vatuvei charge put three Broncos defenders on their backs.

From the next play-the-ball, Issac Luke found a hole which sparked the try-scoring movement and, after Bodene Thompson touched down, many of the Warriors team went to celebrate with Vatuvei, a recognition of his vital input.

"He's an inspirational player and he really starts your sets off well," said Shaun Johnson. "He did his job tonight and we responded off that."

For someone who has been down on confidence, it felt like the 'Beast' took a significant step last night. He will continue to polarise fans but remains a vital component of the Warriors' best 17.

"It felt good being back out there with the boys," said Vatuvei. "It's been a long time. During the week I got a lot of confidence off the boys and our training and now I just have to keep it going."