Former Titans skipper Ryan James has scored his first try in almost 700 days upon an emotional debut for the Canberra Raiders.
The four-pointer was the icing on the cake for James’ off-season move from the Gold Coast, as he helped power the Green Machine to a 30-12 win over the Wests Tigers.
It was an under-the-radar signing by Canberra, whose forward stocks are arguably the deepest in the league – but the former Titan made the most of his club debut, crossing early in the second half to give his side a 12-6 lead.
It was an emotional milestone for the forward nearly 700 days in the making.
James’ last game in the NRL was in April 2019 after he sustained a serious knee injury, before another freak pre-season accident saw him miss the entirety of the 2020 season.
James had played 144 games for the Titans, becoming the club’s longest-serving player and rising to the captaincy before suffering his unfortunate string of injury.
However, Sunday’s big achievement had the NRL world grinning ear-to-ear and hopeful for a new era ahead for the forward.
“That’s a reward for persistence and belief,” rugby league great Peter Sterling said in commentary for Nine.
“He must have gone through some dark times to get back into first grade and score that.
“He’s always been a try-scorer and he just powers his way across.”
Meanwhile, it will be back to the drawing board for the Wests Tigers who failed to replicate some of their scintillating pre-season form, with many of their biggest names failing to fire at GIO Stadium.