If there was ever doubt about the importance of Jamal Fogarty's signing for Canberra, coach Ricky Stuart's reaction to having the halfback ready to play after knee surgery should end it.
"I had a bit of a chat with Sticky (Stuart), I said 'the team's going really good and the combinations are going well, what do you want to do?'" Fogarty told reporters on Thursday.
"He said he'll put me straight in."
That means the surging Raiders, who've won their last three games, will finally see what their pivotal 28-year-old recruit can do against Parramatta on Sunday, after he missed the first 11 games of the season while undergoing knee rehabilitation.
Fogarty joined Canberra in the off-season after being granted an early release from his Gold Coast contract as the Titans backed youngster Toby Sexton as their first-choice halfback.
Round 15 was publicly forecast for his return but Fogarty and the club's physios worked toward round 13, with intense rehab getting him back in business a week earlier than that.
"The last couple of weeks I've done a bit of an intro, a bit of skills, I was trying to tell the trainers to beat it, they were like 'nah mate, gotta be nice and diligent with it'," Fogarty said.
"Last week I was able to do a couple of full sessions, obviously this week preparing for Parra has been really good."
Fogarty joins star five-eighth Jack Wighton in the halves, with his arrival designed to free up the 2020 Dally M Medal winner to produce his trademark slashing runs with the football.
The halfback admitted things might look a little rusty initially as the pair get used to each other's games, particularly with young fullback Xavier Savage also adapting to a starting role.
Asked what excited him most about his Raiders debut, Fogarty said experiencing the GIO Stadium's famed Viking Clap would get the hairs on the back of the neck standing up.
"Coming down as a Titan previously, you kinda want to boo them or don't really give a crap about (the clap)," he said.
"But to be on the other side of it, the anticipation under the sheds, there's a couple of home games there where I've got goosebumps then had to go and sit on the sidelines.
"I can only imagine what the boys are feeling when they're actually running out to it."
Australian Associated Press
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.