Leicester Tigers centre Matt Smith marked his first full game of the season on Friday with LV= Cup victory over Worcester Warriors.
Celebrating his 28th birthday, Smith played his part in a 21-18 triumph to secure back-to-back pool wins for the Tigers.
"It was brilliant to be back out on the pitch," Smith told the Tigers website.
"I really enjoyed it, though the lungs started to go a bit. It was my first 80 minutes I think for about six months, which is the longest I've ever gone in my career without a full game.
"So it was just good to get back out there in the team, get my head down and get into the game. There was a bit of rustiness in terms of mental sharpness but that will happen in a first game back. You know all the calls because you've trained with them but you can train as much as you want, it is different in a game when there are people trying to smash you."
Smith is closing in on 140 appearances for the Welford Road club, but was impressed by the attitude of his younger team-mates, bouncing back from 10-0 down to claim victory.
"It's always tough at Worcester, even with a full-strength side we have struggled at times here, so it is a massive win for this team and will give not just the young lads but all the guys confidence," added Smith.
"At 10-0 down we felt a little bit unlucky to be honest, it seemed every bounce of the ball had gone their way at that stage. But there are experienced guys there, like Boris, Scott Hamilton, Jordan Crane who'll say we've been in this situation before and it is all about how you react to it.
"It can go one way or the other and thankfully we were able to come back and win. For the young boys coming through that, being 10-0 down away from home and coming back to win I great. It is what Leicester pride themselves on over the years and all the players will learn from that."