After his enforced four-match absence, Vodafone Warriors winger Marcelo Montoya is desperate to rip in to help his teammates in Saturday’s Magic Round encounter with the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
The Suncorp Stadium contest is like a fresh beginning for the 26-year-old Fiji Bati international.
He was one of the club’s best players over the first five rounds of the season, making a telling contribution to help the Vodafone Warriors to three straight wins over the Wests Tigers, Brisbane and North Queensland.
Across the five games he averaged a career-best 132 metres a game, scored two tries, made three line breaks and 14 tackle busts.
But then his campaign hit a roadblock in the shape of a contrary conduct offence in the win over the Cowboys which saw him banned for four matches.
It was grim time for him but the ever-upbeat Montoya refused to let the disappointment derail him.
Indeed, with his teammates still coming to terms with last week’s devastating loss to the Sharks, he has been intent on providing an antidote as he has done throughout his suspension.
Montoya jams in superbly on Staggs to force error
"It's important I come in this week, just focus on my job and bring some energy to put my best foot forward in helping us get a good result on the weekend,” he said.
"It has been tough for me. Last year I couldn't play for a while because I was injured whereas this year I've been fit but couldn't play because of suspension.
"At the end of the day that's the situation I was in so I just attacked it by bringing my energy to training every day and stayed positive around the boys. That's all I could do.
"I couldn't be there kicking stones. I had to flick the switch to my training and just make sure I was upbeat. That was my main focus."
Montoya, who makes his 78th career appearance on Saturday, said the support he had from the club fortified him through his four weeks in purgatory.
"The respect from the boys means the world to me,” he said.
“Nothing means more to me than the opinions of my teammates and the staff here. I couldn't control what was going to happen after what happened on the field (against the Cowboys). That's the position I had put myself in and I had to be prepared for what was to come.
"At the end of the day everyone's allowed their own opinion but I just tried to focus on myself and be the best I could be.”
Now he’s ultra-keen to make up for lost time and make his own mark as the Vodafone Warriors look for another bounce back performance.
While Montoya was unable to play, they performed creditably against the Sydney Roosters and fought gallantly to eke out a golden point win over the Raiders but the losses to the Storm and the Sharks were low points.
First he rocks Staggs, then he scores at the other end
While Montoya’s return restores the Vodafone Warriors’ first-choice back three he says there's no easy fix.
“It's collective. We've got to do it as a team. It's not just one individual, or one edge. We've got to be able to turn up on a day and do the job," he said.
"I'm looking forward to it and just being out there with the boys."
And especially being out there with Tohu Harris who finally has his first outing as the club’s official captain in what will be his first match since July last year.
"He's the ultimate professional in terms of the way he plays the game,” said Montoya.
"What he brings to the team in terms of confidence but also experience is massive and having him out there is going to be big for the boys. We're looking forward to seeing Tohu run out for his first game in a while."