2804 days. It’s a long time between drinks. The last time Anthony Cherrington ran out for an NRL game, Kevin Rudd was Prime Minister, Michael Jackson had only just passed away, and Melbourne Storm hadn’t been caught cheating the salary cap. This weekend, his return takes shape.

Cherrington debuted in 2008 with the Roosters, the Junior Kiwi managed 19 NRL games between both 2008 and 2009, before a ruptured ACL ended his 2010 season before it would begin. He suffered the same fate a season later.

He was included in the World Cup training squad for the Kiwis, yet would only play five more NRL games in his career. He left the Roosters at the end of 2011, making the move west to Penrith hoping for a new start. He didn’t get one.

Since failing to play a game for the Panthers, Cherrington has been languishing in the Intrust Super Cup in Queensland. He looked a cut above the rest playing for Redcliffe, even earnng a train-and-trial contract with Brisbane, yet hasn’t managed a single game in the NRL since July, 2009.

A host of suspensions has opened the door for Cherrington to be named on the bench for South Sydney, taking Angus Crichton’s spot after the youngster was named in the starting side. Since his debut nine years ago, Cherrington has made the move from the back-row to prop, something sure to assist the Rabbitohs after losing George Burgess to suspension.

In fact, Tuesday was Cherrington’s 29th birthday, and he celebrated with his first NRL game in close to a decade. The game has certainly changed since his last game in the NRL.

The Bunker wasn’t even a concept yet. There was no seven tackle sets, Dave Gallop was CEO and if you touched the corner post you were deemed out. While it isn’t the same game he debuted into, Cherrington is certain the NRL is still for him.

“I still have that itch and I need to know if I can still play NRL. I need to know. This is my craft. This is what I love doing and there’s no reason why I can’t stop doing what I love” Cherrington said last November.

Coming up against his former club, the undefeated Roosters will be a big first-up challenge for Cherrington, as he goes head to head with Jared Warea-Hargreaves and Dylan Napa. Win or lose, Anthony Cherrington’s wait is finally over.

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