Parramatta forward Kenny Edwards will make his first run-on start in over 500 days when he lines up against Canterbury on Friday night.
The Eels second-rower has made a quiet return to the NRL this year after his nine-month ban, for taking an in-house drug test in place of teammate Kaysa Prichard, ended last November.
A torn ACL in last year’s Auckland Nines meant the New Zealand native was never going to play a game last season anyway, but the drugs drama was the latest in a chequered start to his NRL career.
In 2008, Edwards was sacked from Manly due to ill-discipline.
In 2009, he was given the flick from St George Illawarra for the same reasons.
He was also suspended for two games and fined $5000 for public nuisance on the Gold Coast in 2014.
But Eels coach Brad Arthur opted to give Edwards one final chance after his most recent indiscretion and, for now, it seems to have paid off.
The 26-year-old was one of Parramatta’s best in their upset of reigning premiers North Queensland last week, and he has been rewarded with a starting spot in place of the suspended Manu Ma’u this week.
Arthur hopes the year off helped Edwards realise the error of his ways.
“It’s hard to keep training day in, day out and get flogged knowing your next game’s not until the following year. So it was a tough period but hopefully that’s going to make him better,” he said.
Arthur said the former Australian Schoolboy didn’t just focus on his own rehabilitation either, explaining that Edwards played a big role in mentoring the other inexperienced members of the squad.
“It’s rewarding that he stuck at it,” Arthur said.
“It was really good for us last year in terms of helping some of the other boys that play his position, helped with the improvement of their game.
“But while he was good last week, there’s still plenty areas of his game that he needs to work on.”