IT was far from the bright lights of the NRL and only a few faithful family members, friends and hardcore rugby league tragics watched it.
But almost seven months after suffering the most sickening injury of the 2009 NRL season, Knights utility forward Cameron Ciraldo made his comeback at Marconi Stadium last Saturday in an Aus-Med Shield game for Italy against Malta.
Ciraldo's right fibula was broken into several pieces and his ankle was dislocated into an unnatural position during the second half of Newcastle's 24-12 victory over his former club, Cronulla, at Toyota Stadium on March 23.
It was feared he would never play again but after five months of painful rehabilitation he was cleared to return to the field.
The chance to play finally came last Saturday.
"My leg was fine," Ciraldo said. "I was telling someone the other day, my body felt like I'd been hit by a truck but my leg felt awesome, so it was pretty good to get through that.
"I was a bit nervous before the game but once I got into it I was fine. I didn't even think about it.
"I came off with about five minutes to go. It's not NRL standard but it was good to play about 75 minutes and work my way into the game a bit, especially being a bit nervous at the start.
"We had a win, too, so it was good. We played Malta and were down 10-0 after 10 minutes but came back and won 34-10, so we're playing again [today] against Greece in the final."
Ciraldo may continue his Italian sojourn in the European Cup, which kicks off this weekend and will culminate in the final in Wales on November 7.
The move would require the permission of Knights coach Rick Stone, because Ciraldo would miss the first few days of Newcastle's pre-season training but he was content with either outcome.
"They're trying to find a sponsor for a few of us to go over there and try to help Italy in this European Cup, so I'm not sure if we're going," he said.
"If we do, I spoke to Stoney and he said if I only missed that first week of pre-season, which is a pretty slow week, he wouldn't have too many problems with that but I'd have to make sure of it with them first.
"Either way I've had my first game back and I'll have another game [today], so I'll have more confidence going into the pre-season than what I would have had not playing a game, so that's a win for me whatever happens."
Three senior Knights players will miss the start of pre-season training next month as they recover from reconstructive surgery.
Isaac De Gois (knee) and Zeb Taia and Cooper Vuna (both shoulder) went under the knife last month but all three hope to be back for the trials in February or the opening NRL rounds in March.
Playmaker Jarrod Mullen (shoulder) was spared the surgeon's scalpel and is expected to be fit for the start of pre-season training on November 4.