Jonny Wilkinson spoke of his relief after making a successful comeback appearance after eight months of injury misery on Tuesday night.
England's World Cup final winner made a 40-minute appearance as Newcastle Falcons launched their pre-season preparations with a 32-9 victory over Connacht at Galway Sportsground.
It was Wilkinson's first game since he suffered a neck and shoulder problem just after Christmas. In his absence, England have won just three out of eight Tests, but the signs are that Wilkinson is well on the comeback trail.
"A feeling of relief came through as much as anything else," said Wilkinson, who kicked a penalty, made one bone-crunching tackle and was involved in many of the tougher physical exchanges.
"I have been without competition for a while now and there is no reaction at all. I am pleased about that and now I want to concentrate more on the game rather than the shoulder.
"Today was really valuable and I am pleased to get through it, get rid of the rustiness and get back on the field."
Wilkinson is now likely to start again when Newcastle tackle Munster in Limerick next Monday and it would seem he is on schedule for an English Premiership return at newly-promoted Worcester on September 5.
Newcastle boss Rob Andrew was delighted with Wilkinson's comeback and admitted it had always been the plan to give him a 40-minute workout.
"Jonny is very pleased. He took some pretty big hits, and in terms of the physical side, there is no issue there," said Andrew.
"All he wants to do now is play again on Monday. It couldn't have gone any better, to be honest.
"We weren't concerned about him. If you had seen him in training during the last two weeks, then you wouldn't have had any concern.
"This game was a fantastic workout for the whole squad, and it was a great start for us."
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