Back in business
HE may not be Superman but with the Ipswich Jets showing just one win from five games, the timing of Keiron Lander's return to action couldn't be better.
The Jets skipper will make his long-awaited return from the bench in this afternoon's clash with Burleigh at the North Ipswich Reserve.
"I came through training alright," Lander said.
"A little bit sore the next day but that's to be expected."
Lander has been out of action since suffering a pro-lapsed disc late last season and it has been hard for the tough-as-nails backrower to have to watch from the sidelines for so long.
"There's nothing missing," he said of his physical condition ahead of the clash.
"I've lost 10kg since Christmas.
"It's just going to be match fitness, that's the question.
"I'm five weeks behind the rest of the team but I'm expecting to come out and play how I usually play.
"I'm hoping to play as many minutes as I can. If I'm feeling all right and the game's going alright, it might be longer.
"If I'm buggered and it's a hard tussle, it might be a bit less."
Either way it will be a relief just to be back amongst it, with Lander admitting there were times he thought he might not get there.
"Mentally, for a while it was tough," Lander said.
"I had thoughts of not getting back running passing through my head at times.
"But my passion for playing was still there.
"The day I know my body's not holding up or I lose my passion for the game is the day I stop playing.
"I know I can do it after coming back from a neck injury and now a back."
It may be a bottom-of-the-ladder clash but Lander expects a high intensity battle, given both sides' desperation. "It will be a hard game," he said.
"They're very strong up the middle and have a few boys back from the (Gold Coast) Titans like Brenton Lawrence, Jordan Rankin and maybe Steve Michaels.
"Both of us need the points."
For Ipswich to take them, Lander concedes they have to execute their attacking plays better than they have been.
"Capitalising on our try opportunities is where we need to improve," he said.
"It's just been that last pass, catch or kick.
"If we can capitalise on that, the tide will turn."
Ipswich has fallen to four of the top five sides in the competition and the Jets have missed Lander's mental toughness in key moments as much as his playing presence.
"I think I can provide a little bit of help with direction and leadership and another voice," he said. "We don't have a lot of big talkers, which is a good thing.
"I'll just help out where I can."
The Jets main game will be followed by Ipswich Rugby League fixtures featuring Norths versus Swifts in under-18s, Reserve Grade and A Grade.