Darren Hughes revealed he was both “excited and nervous” ahead of his return to action against TATA Steel RFC.
The hooker broke his ankle on the final day of last season at Cardiff Met RFC and has been on the road to recovery ever since.
It’s been a long rehabilitation but after 329 days Hughes put the Pooler jersey back on for his 38th appearance.
It proved to be a memorable day as Pooler went over the whitewash 15 times.
Wingers Amosa Nove and Mathew Powell shared seven tries between them with the former notching four.
Huw Anderson and Deon Smith both bagged braces with Dai Jones, Dan Babos, Ieuan Jones and Dai Langdon adding the other scores. Langdon also kicked three conversions while Matthew Jarvis came off the bench to boot 12 points.
Hughes lasted an hour before he was replaced by Peter Lloyd and admitted it was a tough 60 minutes with the game so end-to-end.
“It’s the longest I’ve gone in 22 years without playing rugby,” he said.
“It’s been a long time. There were times when I first broke my ankle where I thought I’d never play again so to get here today is an achievement.
“It was tough for my first one back in 11 months, a lot of running, a lot of rugby played.
“We were on our own five-metre line and the next thing you know we are up on theirs. It was madness at times.
“Fair play to TATA, they dug in. 93 points away from home is tough to take but they didn’t stop fighting until the end.
“It was a good game to start out, a lot of running, a lot of cardio, a lot of scrums but it was good.
“Whoever I was going to be play it was going to be tough but I enjoyed it.
“I came out unscathed and got some minutes under my belt.
“It’s obviously a nerve-wracking time, I was excited and nervous at the same time but I’ve trained hard for the last couple of weeks.”
Hughes has been eager to make his return but the club has been cautious with his recovery.
“I’ve done my physio, the medical staff have worked really hard with me and it’s just nice to be back now,” he added.
“The physios said I wasn’t quite ready for the last game on Friday night so they suggested this game.
“There were chats for me to go on the bench but I prefer to start and come off.
“I’m ready to play now, that’s how I feel.
“Just keep racking up the minutes now.
“It’s an important game next week and it’s not a given that I’m going to play.
“We’ve got Sam Scarfe, Peter Lloyd and Aneurin Jenkins so I put my hand up today and hopefully I’ll be involved next week.”