Ben Blaschke, NRL.com
Rejuvenated Manly winger David Williams is hoping to complete a double celebration this week with the 27-year-old on the verge of signing a new two-year-deal with the club just in time for the grand final.
Williams, who missed the Sea Eagles' 2011 premiership win after breaking his neck in Round 25, was tight-lipped when NRL.com spoke to him ahead of Sunday's clash with the Sydney Roosters, saying only: "I'd love to stay. I've never wanted to leave and I'd like to think I could stay here for the rest of my career, but I'm just worried about the grand final at the moment. The rest will take care of itself."
However, Manly officials have confirmed that an offer has been officially presented to Williams' manager, with the flying winger expected to put pen to paper within days of the decider.
It comes as a welcome reward for Williams as he looks to make up for lost time with a premiership win against the Roosters.
"It would be pretty bloody special," he said of the prospect of adding to the title he won back in 2008. "It would be more special than the first one for me I think. That first one I was just riding the wave, this time I've changed my whole training and my outlook on how I play my football. There has definitely been a lot more work that has gone into it."
Williams burst onto the scene in 2008, scoring 14 tries in 20 games, winning a grand final and making his Test debut for Australia. The following season he represented City-Country and played two games for NSW, but a shoulder injury suffered in the 2010 pre-season was the catalyst for three horror seasons in which he played a total of just 28 games.
"I haven't been past Round 25 since 2009 so that's been a bit torturous," he said. "I missed the whole season in 2010 which was pretty hard to take and then being out in Round 25 two years in a row (2011 and 2012) was tough too – especially when the boys went so well in 2011.
"But we're here now and just looking forward to the week and all the challenges ahead. To be honest, I've just been happy to double my usual season average of games. It's been good to play almost every game and to have been gradually improving as well so hopefully I can step up again this week."
Williams insists his injury-free 2013 has been no fluke, either.
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Renowned as one of the more unique characters in the NRL, earlier this year he began experimenting with a raw food diet recommended by personal trainer Seane Carolan and says the decision to eliminate anything cooked has worked wonders on his fragile body.
"I think a lot of factors have come into play this year but my training regime and my diet has certainly started to kick in with the results later in the season," he said.
"It's second to none. I've played an average of 12 games a year throughout my career and my injury prevention and ability to recover post-game – even during the game – is sevenfold now compared with how it used to be. I put that all down to my trainer and the diet I've been on."
Most remarkable is that Williams has remained fit at a time when the club as a whole has taken a battering. The Sea Eagles have endured a torrid few months with a number of players having battled through injury to help Manly to a fourth grand final in seven seasons, but while many have been surprised by their endurance in 2013 Williams says the playing group never doubted themselves.
"It's rugby league, you're going to be bruised and battered every week," he said. "If you weren't bruised and battered every week it means you're not going out there and giving it a good dig. At the end of the day you've got to do what you've got to do.
"There is a lot of self-belief at this club. We've been together for a while and we all know what we're capable of. I think that's why we always get up each other when we're not doing everything to the best of our abilities.
"The first 20 minutes was definitely like that and I don't think any of us thought for a minute that being bruised and battered was any excuse.
"But it was good to bounce back and eventually kick into gear and actually play football for a change. I think that will give us a lot of confidence for this week that we can always get the job done."