Vella keen to make mark
Hull KR's return to the engage Super League this Saturday will also signify the second-coming of one of Australia's forgotten men.
Michael Vella will line up in the Robins' front-row when they face Wakefield Trinity Wildcats at Craven Park following his winter move from Parramatta.
Two years ago, the 28-year-old was believed to be a target for Wigan Warriors, before a combination of thyroid cancer and several injuries restricted him to just a handful of appearances for the Eels over the last two seasons.
Now fully fit, the former Kangaroo and Malta international has signed a three-year deal on Humberside and admits he is raring to go again.
"I didn't play a lot of football last year because I was injured," he said. "I did my ankle and missed the last 10 rounds of the competition. The year before I had a few other injuries and missed the start of the year for other reasons. I haven't played a lot of football lately and I feel fresh and ready."
Vella is also keen to stress that he hasn't come to England for one last pay-day but prefers to insist he is planning on a long stay in the country.
He said: "I have always wanted to come over here and when the opportunity came up I didn't want to miss out and knock it back.
"I'm due to be here for three years which would take me to 31 and I'd maybe like two more after that so it's not really the end of my career. I'm not at the end but I'm no spring chicken either so I'm well placed to pass on some experience to the other guys."
Having only escaped relegation on the last day of last season, some Rovers die-hards may well view Wakefield as underwhelming opponents on their engage Super League debut, although Vella believes the occasion will be special no matter who the opposition are.
"We could have drawn St Helens who won the competition last year and they might have come here and underestimated us or they might have come here and beaten us up," he said.
"Wakefield are a team with a lot to prove and they know that they'll be expected to come here and beat us. So any game was going to pose difficult problems, we just want to get on with it and play some football."
The last two Super League campaigns have seen the promoted side instantly relegated, prompting calls in some quarters for the abolishment of promotion and relegation. Rovers have already been written off by some but Vella prefers to remain tight-lipped about his side's ambitions.
"I don't know how we're going to go," he admitted. "Everything is pretty fresh to everyone at the club at the moment and we're still finding our feet.
"We're improving every day though. I don't really want to make any predictions about how we're going to do. We've got a lot of new players, a lot of whom are young, that haven't played together before, so we're going to have to allow a bit of time for it all to gel together."