Jono Smith could make his long-awaited Rochdale Hornets debut on Friday after serving an eight-match suspension that was handed down late last season.
And in a twist of fate, that debut will be away at North Wales Crusaders, the club he left at the end of last season to join the Hornets.
“I can’t wait to play again and the fact that it’s against North Wales was something you couldn’t make up,” Smith told League Express.
“I was injured at the back end of last season as well, so I haven’t played a competitive game since the end of July. I can’t wait to get out there, rip in and make my debut for Rochdale.
“I knew that if we got through the first Challenge Cup game that I would be able to return against North Wales, so it was all fingers crossed. Luckily we beat Mayfield, so it has all fallen into place nicely.
“I have been doing some extra conditioning work to get myself as ready as I can be for the game. I am as fit as I can be, I just need some match fitness, which will come once I am back playing.”
Smith was handed the lengthy ban after being charged on grounds of misconduct after abusing match officials on two separate occasions. The first of these incidents took place whilst Smith was already serving another suspension for a similar offence.
But the 27-year-old admits lessons have been learnt and that he will now work hard at keeping his emotions in check.
“If I can stay injury free and behave myself, hopefully I can reap the rewards from that at the end of the year,” added Smith.
“I am probably guilty of wearing my heart on my sleeve a bit too much. If I don’t agree with something my emotions can get the better of me.
“I have got to start learning from my mistakes, and I will, but this behind me now and I’ll move forward.”