After an extended spell away from the NRL, Corey Oates couldn't help but show his relief at playing his first match for Brisbane in 2021 against Penrith.
The towering Oates has been riddled with injuries in the past 12 months and struggled to find a place in the forward pack, having trained on the edge during the preseason.
Oates was sidelined early in 2021 with a hand injury, after suffering a haematoma and deep leg gash in the Broncos' round-10 match against Wests Tigers last year.
But some strong showings on the wing in the Q Cup under watchful coach Kevin Walters put Oates back in the frame against Penrith in round six, and he's thankful to be back in the starting 17 without any aspirations of playing on the edge again.
"Relief is probably a good way to put it, I was just really happy to be out there playing in the Broncos jersey again," Oates said.
"When Kevvie came to see me last week and told me I was in the team, it was the happiest I've been for a long time.
"(In preseason) When Kevvie (Walters) asked me he wanted to see me play on the edge, you're going to do what your coach asks you to do.
"When I realised I wasn't going to get a spot, all I want to do is play NRL and if it's on the wing, it's on the wing.
"It's where my career has been the whole time and I don't see any point to change it this late in my career."
With 157 NRL appearances and 94 tries in the NRL, Oates said playing for Souths was a great way to get comfortable again and thinks dropped Broncos star Anthony Milford could experience the same.
"It's a good environment to go back (to), which is really good for him (Milford)," he said.
"It was the most fun I'd had playing footy for a long time and it got the enjoyment back in the game.
"I just want him to go back and have some fun and I'm sure he'll be back in the team."
But for Oates his focus remains on enjoying his time back in the side, learning from his tenure spent away from the club.
"Its pretty degrading not being in the NRL team.
"When you're cruising along in life and you get dropped it hits you pretty hard, but you do get more of an appreciation for the team and playing for the club.
"Hopefully I can keep putting performances forward that the coaches are happy with, and I'm happy with."