NEWPORT Gwent Dragons flanker Darren Waters aims to repay the faith shown in him by boss Lyn Jones when he makes his comeback against Newcastle tomorrow evening (kick-off 7.45pm).
The 28-year-old openside will make his first regional start of the campaign in the LV= Cup clash at Kingston Park.
In August Waters ruptured ligaments in his left knee for the second pre-season in succession, leaving him to cut a frustrated figure on the sidelines for five months.
He returned with a cameo off the bench for Cross Keys in their defeat to Moseley a fortnight ago and now is poised to pull on the 7 jersey for the first time in 2013/14.
Neither the Dragons nor the Falcons can qualify for the semi-finals but it is certainly not a dead rubber for Waters.
"I'd like to thank Lyn for giving me this chance," said the back row forward. "He has got a lot of faith in me and I want to repay him for that.
"Lyn said he has watched footage of me but needs to see me in the flesh, so it's up to me to impress.
"I'm so excited to be back and it's a great chance for me – I've worked hard to get back and now I have to deliver what the coaches have asked of me."
Waters declares that his rehabilitation and preparation for this comeback has been "10 times better than last time" with plenty of emphasis on strengthening his hamstrings.
But if anyone knows the dangers of looking too far ahead it is Waters, who has made just 15 regional appearances since making the step up to pro rugby from Pontypridd in 2011.
It was this time last year that he made his comeback number one against a London Welsh side that were then coached by Jones.
The knee was fine but unfortunately he injured his calf at the Kassam Stadium. He went on to play just one more game – against Ulster at Ravenhill – and this time he is desperate to be part of the RaboDirect Pro12 run-in.
"I need to get match fitness but if I can get a decent amount of minutes in Newcastle then I'd love to be in with a shout for Edinburgh (a week on Sunday)," he said.
"There are some big games left this season – especially the one against the Ospreys at the Millennium Stadium – but I won't be setting my sights too far.
"Competition for places in the back row is healthy and I just have to make sure that I am part of that."
The Dragons name their side to take on Newcastle this lunchtime.