Joel Monaghan will face the taunts and jibes of a crowd on Sunday for the first time since fleeing Australia in embarrassment.
The Kangaroo wingman asked for a release from Canberra Raiders and flew to Europe after a photo was posted on the internet showing him simulating a lewd act with a dog at an end-of-season drinking session.
"It was the worst time of my life," said Monaghan, as he faced the media for the first time yesterday at his new club, Warrington.
"I didn't turn the internet on or read a newspaper for about two months. The hardest thing was seeing my family dragged in as well. I never slept for a week and it was obviously a rough time."
Monaghan will play for the first time since that infamous escapade in the friendly at Leigh this weekend and his brother, Michael, already an established player with the Wolves, has warned him to expect a ribald reception.
"He's said that I'm going to have to experience a lot, but I'm big enough," he said. "I know what's going to happen, so I've got my head around it."
The Warrington captain, Adrian Morley, has no doubts that Monaghan will take any abuse in his stride. "I played with Joel for two years at the Sydney Roosters and I know what a strong character he is," he said. "There's going to be a bit of banter, but I don't think it's going to be an issue for him. He's been crucified in Australia, so this is going to be a walk in the park by comparison.
"He's heard all the jokes from the players, because rugby league is a game where there's plenty of mickey-taking. We haven't been walking on eggshells with him and, underneath all the nonsense, we've got a very good player. The NRL's loss is our gain."
Another new team-mate, Jon Clarke, said: "We've absolutely murdered him and that's helped him settle in."
The Warrington coach, Tony Smith, is equally confident Monaghan will weather his baptism. "Rugby league fans are generally pretty good," he said. "He knows there will be a bit of banter coming his way, but nothing that goes too far. Having a laugh at each other is what keeps us down to earth and stops us getting too full of ourselves."Reuse content