When Canberra recruit Ryan James talks about changes in the game between his second last and most-recent NRL starts, you know he’s harkening back to an almost bygone era.
Prior to Sunday, the previous time he took to the field for an NRL team some of the current regulations were not yet conceived, let alone implemented.
Such has been the time he spent away from the game as a result of back-to-back ACL injuries.
James' first outing for the Raiders including snaring a try in a 30-12 win over the Wests Tigers on Sunday.
The six-again rules weren't around when James had previously played in April 2019, let alone be re-evaluated and expanded.
James also found the new Bunker review process a somewhat confusing experience.
Match Highlights: Raiders v Wests Tigers
"It was a little bit weird, to think you’ve scored a try and you go back to half-way and then a minute or two later you’re back down there tackling, it’s weird," he said.
"[It] Gives us a longer break but I think they’re trying to speed the game up so it’s just one of those things that felt like it made it longer and a little bit up and down because you’re like 'what’s happened?'.
"But because they both didn’t go our way; I was probably a little bitter as well.
"But once we were playing, the pace was definitely a lot quicker than [when] I last played so getting used to that and the six-again while seeing six turned into 10 or 12 tackles quickly ... it’s hard."
Simonsson leaps high and sets up Young
The performances of James and fellow bench forwards Sia Soliola and Ryan Sutton leaves coach Ricky Stuart with plenty to think about now that Corey Horsburgh and Corey Harawira-Naera are again available for selection.
But if James continues to follow the simple instructions Stuart gave him, an extended run in the team is possible.
The NRL veteran ran for 94 metres in 11 hit-ups, made 21 tackles, three tackles breaks and a line break in an impressive 46-minute club debut.
"It was alright, it was just good to get back out there to tell you the truth," James said.
"Sticky [Ricky Stuart] just told us to go forward and we did that at the start of the second half, so once we stuck to what we were supposed to be doing from the start of the game we started to play some decent footy."
The Raiders hit the road this week, travelling to Sydney to take on the Sharks on Sunday night.
As the season is still young, James expects the Raiders' focus to remain on building continuity with the side rather than devising a game plan focused on a Cronulla side that beat the Dragons 32-18 in round one.
Get Caught Up: Round 1
James, for one, isn’t focussing too much on the Sharks, saying he would prefer to continue to build combinations with his new teammates and adjust to his role as an impact bench forward.
"It’s great, it’s awesome really to go out there after the other boys have done the hard jobs," he said.
"You’ve got Papa [Josh Papalii], Taps [Joe Tapine] and Nami [Dunamis Lui] doing the work first and I get to come on when everybody’s tired.
"It’s good knowing I don’t have to play long minutes, but I know if I have to I can do it, I’ve trained hard enough and I think I’m fit enough to do it.
"I have been working with Sutty [Ryan Sutton] in the off-season and hopefully I will get a bit of playing time with Papa, Nams and Taps because they’re very dynamic players and stuff happens off the back of them."
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