Gunnedah rugby union export Ben Gunter made a stunning return to Australian shores in the Global Tens in Brisbane at the weekend.
Identified by Wallabies winger Drew Mitchell as one of the players to watch, the back-rower was a standout for Panasonic Wild Knights.
Gunter, the youngest player to appear in a Japanese Top League game, showed a wider audience the club meant business.
Panasonic went into the two-day tournament at Suncorp Stadium ranked a 100-1 outsiders by the bookies, who were soon scrambling.
Gunter scored the first try as the Wild Knights opened with a 15-5 upset defeat of NSW Waratahs on Saturday.
Panasonic franked the form by taking down a second Australian opponent, sealing a 17-12 victory against Melbourne Rebels.
“To get a win against the Waratahs, I think we exceeded everyone’s expectations,” Panasonic ace Daniel Heenan said.
“But then to back it up with that win it just proved that the first one wasn’t a fluke and that a few of our boys can play footy.”
Panasonic’s form from Saturday did not translate into Sunday, going down 33-5 to the Chiefs on Sunday.
That result saw the Wild Knights finish second in Pool A and drawn against the Crusaders in the quarter-finals.
Panasonic performed admirably, but lost a tight encounter 12-7.
Coach Robbie Deans could not have been happier with the effort of his side.
“They did themselves proud,” Deans said.
“It was a little frustrating in the last one that we couldn’t get any momentum, but the experience will be great for them.”