“I’ve been off the scene for two years now – but I’m just trying to find my groove again.”
There would be no better place for Hull FC’s Andre Savelio to do just that than in tonight’s derby.
That said, anyone watching the explosive forward’s display in Sunday’s win over Leeds Rhinos would suggest he has already found that groove once more.
Savelio – dogged by injuries since joining from Brisbane Broncos in March – came off the bench to run riot with his powerful carries and try-making offloads.
Earlier in his career, he had once drawn comparisons with Sonny Bill Williams.
It was fitting, then, that this brilliant display for Hull came on the same Headingley pitch where the New Zealander behemoth had made his rugby league return just a couple of hours before.
Given the strife he has encountered of late, no one for one minute is suggesting Savelio, the 24-year-old born in New Zealand but raised in Warrington, is now the Black and Whites’ own SBW.
However, there is so much for head coach Lee Radford to cheer.
Indeed, Savelio, who started out at St Helens and also played for Warrington before his NRL non-event, insisted: “I’ve probably still got some more in me.
“I still don’t think I was carrying the ball like I used to. I still have that thought in the back of my head about recurring injuries.
“But I think that freeness will come the more games I get under my belt. I was happy with some of my carries against Leeds but not others; there’s more to come.”
Hull will hope they see some of that tonight as the city rivals go head-to-head at KCOM Stadium.
Savelio’s only involvement in the famous affair came last June – when he was injured in an 18-10 loss at Craven Park, his last outing of the year.
“I have had probably two torrid years,” admitted the son of Lokeni Savelio, the former Salford forward who also played for Halifax in 2000.
“I’m not looking for sympathy as that’s just part of the game.
“But I had a dream and went over to pursue it in Brisbane when Wayne Bennett asked me to go over there and play. In the first trial I did my ACL so I didn’t play that year. Then he moved on and so I ended up moving on, too.
“Radders gave me the opportunity to come to Hull and again it was similar; after getting over the ACL, two games in here I did syndesmosis, then played a couple and ended up fracturing my foot.
“So I’ve just had no luck for the last two years. I’ve been off the scene but I’m just trying to find my groove again.”
From which position that groove will come is open to debate; Savelio came on for loose forward Gareth Ellis against Leeds but is a back-row by trade.
“I sat down with Radders at the start of the year and asked him where my best bet was for a starting spot,” he said.
“Obviously I was on the bench at the weekend. That’s just the way he went. But I asked and he said to make sure I had right back-rower sorted in my head.
“I like playing on the right but I know Manu (Ma’u) has got a mortgage on that position at the minute. Other than that he said to figure out how to lock down 13.
“I played 13 at Saints in my first couple of years and was comfortable with that. I wandered between the two and don’t mind.”
Ironically, though, since this interview was conducted earlier this week, Tonga international Ma’u – the big signing from Parramatta Eels – has been ruled out for up to five weeks with a knee injury and Ellis (ankle), too, is set for a fortnight on the sidelines.
It means Savelio has gone from jostling for a bench spot to potentially starting in either of his favoured roles this evening.
It will be interesting to see which way Radford goes and, of course, he could still always leave Savelio revved up on the bench ready to do to KR what he did to Leeds. Whatever happens, in Ellis, the 38-year-old former Great Britain forward who was such a hit in the NRL, he has the perfect learning tool.
“It’s trippy,” Savelio said, when asked what it is liking working with the legend.
“Just the way he carries himself. It’s inspiring. I have a lot of respect for the way he acts around the club and as a person.
“You learn stuff off those types of figures. It’s like Chris Hill and Benny Westwood at Warrington.
“They have that aura about them and Gaz is like that; everything he does is so professional.”
Rovers started well with victory against Wakefield but are heavy underdogs tonight.
On the derby, Savelio insisted: “It’s just another game for me. I treat every game the same.
“KR like to shift the ball. I’ve seen Jordan Abdull at 13, they’ve some handy outside backs and silky ball-playing back-rowers like Harvey Livett. It’ll be good. I don’t think even Rads expected what we did against Leeds and it’ll be good to get out there again.”
Hull and Kangaroos legend Peter Sterling, 59, was at training yesterday as captain Danny Houghton prepared to return for his 350th club appearance.