by Mitchell Craig
FORMER Lennox Head surfer Owen Wright will return to Pipeline this week for the first time since a head injury forced him out of the World Championship Tour two years ago.
Wright suffered a concussion in the lead-up to the Billabong Pipeline Masters in 2015 with the after-effects leading to him missing a full year of competition.
In the months that followed he had to build himself back up after it looked like he might have suffered permanent brain damage.
He received a wildcard back on the tour this season and made a triumphant return, winning his first event back at the Quiksilver Pro on the Gold Coast.
"It's a double-edged sword. On the one hand I'm really excited to go and surf Pipeline,” Wright said.
"On the other hand I'm nervous.
"Going back to the place where I had suffered my injury will be difficult. We'll just have to see how it goes.”
Younger sibling Tyler Wright returned home earlier this week for media commitments after winning her second straight world title at Hawaii last week.
She left for Hawaii again yesterday to see him finish the season at the final men's event of the year.
He will not have the added pressure of attempting to win the world title after he fell out of contention at the last event at Portugal.
Wright is fifth on overall rankings with the four men above him all a chance of winning the world title.
Defending champion John John Florence is currently leading the race ahead of Gabriel Medina, Jordy Smith and Julian Wilson.
Byron Bay resident Matt Wilkinson is sixth on the rankings and could leapfrog Wright with a strong performance.
Both have comfortably re-qualified for next season while Lennox Head surfer Stu Kennedy looks set to miss out.
Competition is expected to start tomorrow.