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NRL: Canberra Raiders forward Dunamis Lui eyes round one return

Caden Helmers

Published: February 9 2018 - 5:55PM

By the time Canberra Raiders forward Dunamis Lui returns to football, he will have had three things playing on a loop in his mind for 259 days.

How is his knee going to take that first run, that initial contact, and having that third man cut down his legs?

One play turned Lui's 2017 season on its head when he tore his ACL against the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles on June 4.

Now, after a 259-day wait, he is set to return to action in the Green Machine's trial match against the Canterbury Bulldogs at Sunshine Coast Stadium on February 17.

It is the Green Machine's lone hit-out before their season begins and Lui is targeting a strong showing and selection for their round one clash against the Gold Coast Titans on the Gold Coast on March 11.

"I've got to get that first run out of the way, just that initial contact and having that third man come in and take the legs," Lui said.

"That's playing on my mind a bit, everything else I'm pretty sweet, it's just that initial contact and then that third man coming in and taking the legs.

"I'll just be hoping and praying that everything goes right. There's been a couple of times at training where I've been wrestled to the ground and my knee has been caught and I've had to yell out 'stop'.

"In a game I won't be able to do that so hopefully all goes well."

Lui says Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has him pencilled in to play the last 10 minutes of the first half in the trial match.

Should everything go to plan Lui could play more minutes in the second half, but until then he just has to focus on rediscovering his confidence during game intensity simulations.

Lui says he hasn't eased into his return, rather deciding to push himself to the brink of exhaustion in a determined bid to be ready for round one.

"I can't wait. It's been a long road, rehab has been pretty tough," Lui said.

"The surgeon has cleared me to play, it's just all about getting my confidence back now and just when I'm ready to play, it's pretty much just when I'm ready.

"I'll be a chance [for round one], it's just about building confidence and when I think I'm ready to play. I'll be working my butt off to get in that top 17 for round one, that's for sure.

"A couple of weeks ago I think I was three weeks ahead of my rehab. I've steadied down a bit now that the surgeon has cleared me to play, and just trying to work on my confidence.

"I've been trying to work my butt off to get in that top 17 for round one. If I can make round one, then that would be a huge accomplishment for myself. Right now, I'm just trying to build up my confidence."

Lui admits the rehabilitation phase "was really tough", and the former Samoan representative had to lean heavily on his family for support.

Injuries and form have limited Lui to 87 games since he made his debut for the Brisbane Broncos in 2010 but now he hopes he can solidify his place in the NRL.

"It was good coming in and seeing the boys, but as soon as they left the gym to go out on the field and you're still in the gym looking out watching them train, it is kind of hard," Lui said.

"But I just really stuck close to family. A lot of the boys here supported me really well."

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