RETURNING PROP Mitch Garbutt insists he isn’t concerned about opponents trying to provoke him after he was sent off in his previous appearance for Leeds Rhinos.
Garbutt has completed a two-game ban – imposed after he admitted punching in Rhinos’ World Club Challenge defeat by North Queensland Cowboys – and is set to feature at Wigan Warriors tonight.
Garbutt felled Cowboys’ James Tamou with one punch after reacting to a slap aimed at team-mate Keith Galloway.
The Aussie, who apologised for the incident at the time, said: “I try to play the same game every week and that’s what I’ll be trying to do.
“What I did is against the rules of the game. It’s not what the game’s about.
“It’s something I regret, but for me, I am just moving forward.”
Garbutt’s return is a boost for Rhinos, who were without nine members of their 26-strong full-time squad for last Friday’s win over Huddersfield Giants.
“I don’t think I’ve had any days off,” he said of his enforced break.
“Jason Davidson [Rhinos’ conditioner] has made sure I’ve been in doing something, so it has been tough and I am ready to go.”
Back-rower Jamie Jones-Buchanan and hooker Beau Falloon could make their first appearance of the season tonight, but Rhinos are without forwards Brett Delaney, Carl Ablett and Stevie Ward.
But Garbutt said: “I think the pack’s been really good.
“Adam Cuthbertson led by example last week, he was outstanding.
“Keith Galloway is big, strong and has added a lot of experience and I thought Brad Singleton was really good as well.”
Galloway, a former Australia Test prop, has not made the instant impact Garbutt and Cuthbertson did last year.
But Garbutt stressed: “I know as a player I enjoy playing with Keith.
“He brings a lot to the team leadership-wise.
“I think he has done really well. It is a bit of a different competition over here, a bit of a shock to the system, but I think he has adapted well.”
Wigan are taking a 100 per cent winning record into round five and Garbutt warned: “Any time you play Wigan you know you are in for a big game and a physical game.
“That’s something we are looking forward to and for me it can’t come quick enough.
“It has been a long two weeks. It doesn’t seem like long but it is, not getting to play with the boys, so I am looking forward to it.”
Rhinos got off the mark last Friday with a tense 20-16 success against Huddersfield, ending a run of four straight defeats.
Garbutt said: “The win last week was what we needed.
“It wasn’t pretty, but everyone dug their heels in and I thought it was a good defensive effort in the end, which was what we needed.
“We love close games! It is heart-stopping stuff, but I think you benefit from close games more than you do a big blow out. We will take a lot of things out of last weekend and we’ll move forward.
“I think bar the game against Widnes, the team has actually performed better than people think. We lost against Warrington and Catalans, but they were two close games and they are good sides who are going to be up there at the end of the year.”
Meanwhile, Rhinos under-16s face London Broncos at Stanningley tomorrow (2pm).