NEW Wests Tigers fan favourite Jamal Idris has vowed to let his hair down and have some serious fun in his NRL second coming.
Talk of Robbie Farah returning to haunt his former club has been impossible to ignore in the lead-up to Friday night's blockbuster clash between the Tigers and South Sydney.
But the return of Idris - and the rock star reception he's likely to receive from the Tigers faithful at ANZ Stadium - will be just as intriguing.
Despite having never played for the Tigers, Idris is arguably challenging James Tedesco and skipper Aaron Woods when it comes to the club's biggest marketing drawcard.
Tigers boss Justin Pascoe said Idris had the rare ability to attract the same warm response "from a room full of kids or a room full of 500 corporates".
"People say, 'why did you take the risk?', but I don't think he's a risk - Jamal Idris is a talent who if he can get his self-belief in the right place, he can be anything," Pascoe said.
"If he's going to show the world how good he is, it should be the year he's making a comeback.
"He attracts attention, he has a big personality, he engages with a real authenticity, so people warm to that.
"I knew him at Penrith, and when I spoke to him after he came back from 15 months away, I felt his maturity levels were far greater, his views on life had changed, his perspective on his own capabilities had changed, so I didn't think he was a risk at all."
Idris, who was named to start in Tim Simona's left centre position against Souths, said: "I'll be having some fun out there. That's what I'm about.
"You have to enjoy the game while you play it. You play at your best when you're enjoying it.
"I've always said that. Even when I was 18 and 19 and 20, I always said if I stopped enjoying the game, I'd stop playing. And I did. This is a fresh start now."
Idris said he had no try celebrations planned, despite having more than enough time to think of one while backpacking around the globe.
"I have to get over the line first. I'm not that flashy - I'm just a weirdo," Idris said.
Idris has fond memories of ANZ Stadium given it was where he made his debut late in the 2008 season for Canterbury.
He remembers going head to head with Parramatta's Krisnan Inu, a childhood friend, and deliberately throwing the ball away to catch a breather, only to be penalised and be forced to defend.
Such is the interest in the giant 26-year-old's comeback, Idris said he had been forced to screen phone calls from relatives desperate for free tickets to his highly anticipated comeback.
Coach Jason Taylor hooked Idris just before the hour mark in the final trial against North Queensland, and said he would need to be ready to last 80 minutes for round one.
Idris said he would have no such issues with lasting the whole game.
"One hundred per cent, football is the easy part, training is the hard part," Idris said.
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