Teenage back-rower Rob Valetini hopes he can use the National Rugby Championship season to bury his injury demons after knee problems stalled his ACT Brumbies rise this year.
The Canberra Vikings will wait until at least round three to unleash Valetini and hooker Josh Mann-Rea as the Brumbies duo prepare to make their respective comebacks from injury.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika earmarked Valetini as a player to watch before a game had been played this year, but the 19-year-old damaged his medial ligament in his Super Rugby debut.
He returned to the field in the middle of the season, but managed just two more games before suffering the same injury and missing the rest of the campaign.
Mann-Rea hasn't played since his hamstring snapped off the bone in a game against the Melbourne Rebels in March.
"It was hard always watching or doing your own rehab ... it sort of sucked, but it's OK. I'm still young, I've still got a lot to work on so we're taking a long process [with recovery] to make sure it doesn't happen again," Valetini said.
"I thought I'd done my ACL the second time, so at least it wasn't that. I'm just trying to get myself better.
"Injuries happen, it's just about the way you get back up. That's what I've been thinking about. It's definitely motivated me to get better and play well in the NRC and then lead into next year."
The Vikings will name their team on Thursday morning for the clash against Queensland Country in the NRC opener at Viking Park on Saturday.
Wallabies Tom Banks, Folau Faingaa, Joe Powell and Rory Arnold have been made available for selection for the grand final re-match. The Vikings will wear a heritage ACT Kookaburras strip for the match.
Meanwhile, the Brumbies have signed Australian junior playmaker Bayley Kuenzle on a wider-training squad contract.
"The Brumbies are a quality rugby team and play an exciting, fast-paced style of game which I believe will suit my own playing style. They are a young and talented group in Canberra and I am looking forward to joining up," Kuenzle said.
NRC ROUND ONE
September 1: Canberra Vikings v Queensland Country at Viking Park, 5pm. Entry is free.