THE prospect of an almost fully fit Filinga Filiga venting months of frustration on competition leader Wynnum Manly on Saturday has Sea Eagles officials salivating.
Big things were expected of the former Canterbury Bulldogs first-grader when he returned to the Sunshine Coast for the start of this season after a year with Redcliffe.
But the 102kg wrecking ball centre injured his ankle in February's trial match against the Warriors in New Zealand and then lost some conditioning when he could not return home for a couple of weeks due to visa issues.
The Sea Eagles took a chance and played him in the opening round loss to Central Capras, but he struggled and then spent two weeks on the sideline.
Having played reserve grade in the past two rounds, Filiga gets his chance back in the top grade following an ankle injury to centre Mitchell Buckett.
At 27, Filiga is one of the Coast's more seasoned players, and the Kiwi wants to take on a leadership role as the side looks to immediately rebound from last weekend's 42-12 loss to Norths by upsetting the unbeaten Seagulls at Stockland Park.
"Hopefully, (I'll) be a leader and get the boys through the game this week," he said yesterday.
"It's a young side. And being that age and having played a few games in the Q-Cup, I feel like I have to be a leader."
Filiga said he was probably two more games away from achieving peak fitness. He admitted to feeling frustrated over his slow start to the season, but was ready to make the most of this opportunity.
Sea Eagles chief executive Justin Veivers said the centre was close to where the club wanted him to be, and an in-form Filiga would provide the side with a big boost.
"For us it's pretty exciting because him at his best … he's a very, very good player," Veivers said. "He'd make any Q-Cup team at his peak."
SUNSHINE COAST v WYNNUM MANLY
Stockland Park, Saturday, 3pm