Tony Clubb is looking forward to settling his nerves as Wigan Warriors start their Challenge Cup campaign on Sunday – by being out on the pitch.
The prop has been out of action since the win at Salford in March with a knee injury, and admits watching from the stands has been tough.
But with a trip to Warrington’s HJ Stadium – in front of the BBC cameras – to negotiate, Clubb’s return could hardly have been tougher.
“I’d have picked an easier one if I could,” he joked.
“It’s just good to come back. I get more nervous watching because I can’t control anything.
“At least when I’m out there I can give them a bit of energy and bring some leadership and I’ve played in many games and many big games too.
“It’s good to help them out any way possible.”
Warriors lost 25-12 at the HJ back in March, and were knocked-out of the Challenge Cup at the same venue at the quarter-final stage last term.
But coach Adrian Lam has taken steps to remind his players of the club’s history with the tournament, which Wigan have won more than anyone else.
“We’ve been through it this morning. How many wins, how many times we’ve been in the finals,” revealed Clubb.
“Lammy broke it down – all the wins, all the finals, who won it first. It’s massive. Wigan have done it the most.”
But fans have been waiting since the 2013 Wembley win over Hull FC to see their side lift the famous trophy again.
They reached Wembley in 2017 – losing to Hull in a game which saw Clubb have a try disallowed.
“We’ve not done it for a long time –2013 was the last time,” said Clubb.
“We’re excited. It’s a different cup and a different challenge for us.”
During Clubb’s absence, Wigan slipped to three Super League losses on the spin after a 42-0 demolition of Catalans Dragons, but have since recovered a little and laboured to wins over Salford, Castleford and London.
But Clubb is expecting both sides to rise to the occasion in front of a terrestrial television audience this weekend and hopes his experience can lift the Warriors.
“It’s always tough but you have to come back and play someone,” he said.
“At the minute every game is a tough game for us. To come back against them away is going to be good. It’s exciting and just good to be back.
“It’s going to be a good game. Warrington are playing well and we want to go there and do a good job. In these big games you need those leaders who will help you out at times you need it
most. Lockers, Tommy, people like that are doing a fantastic job for us.”
Clubb has been kept company in the treatment room by fellow forward Liam Farrell, who is nearing a return from a layoff since February with a torn pectoral muscle.
And Clubb hopes the timing of his and Farrell’s returns will give the Warriors a major boost as they look to climb the Super League table and into play-off contention.
“Training away from the lads and being by yourself is tough,” Clubb said. “We get Faz back in the next few weeks so we’ll get everyone fit for the right time of the year. Getting the personnel back at the right time is key for us.”