A month of doing nothing at all may sound like heaven to many but Titans fullback William Zillman is happy to hand in the university text books and resume full training with the team less than a month from their first pre-season trial.
Zillman missed eight of the Titans' final nine games of the 2013 season due to an osteitis pubis injury, with David Mead and Kevin Gordon sharing the fullback duties in his absence. The 27-year-old insists he is now back to full fitness and eager to put the disappointment of last season behind him.
Caused by an inflammation in the pelvic area that results in pain in the groin region, the primary treatment of osteitis pubis is simply rest, a prescription issued by the medical team that one of the fastest men in the game found hard to cope with.
"It is hard when you go from being fairly active day in and day out, it's hard to really rest the body and do nothing at all, which is what I had to do for at least the first month of the off-season," Zillman said. "It was tough but I'm reaping the rewards now so I'm glad that I did.
"I'm still studying [a Business degree] at university so it probably gave me a chance to knock a bit of that over but it was hard; I just walked to the beach and back most days.
"I battled with [the injury] for a couple of months before I realised that it wasn't getting any better while I kept running. The off-season was really kind to me, I got a chance to rest the body and up until Christmas I was probably doing 70 to 80 per cent of the training and aiming to be back at full-strength after Christmas and now the body's going really well."
The injury to Zillman last season coincided with other serious injuries to Luke Bailey, Jamal Idris and Albert Kelly, with ironman Luke Douglas the only Titans player to appear in all 24 games in 2013.
Despite completing the full session on Monday morning, Kelly continues to be under the microscope of the club's medical team with an ongoing issue with the veins in his left foot. If it doesn't respond to recent injections aimed at reducing the blood flow through the troublesome veins, Kelly could require high-risk surgery to rectify the problem.
"He did a full session today, we'll see how he pulls up," said Titans coach John Cartwright. "He's had some injections in there on the weekend so we'll see how it pulls up from a full session but the medical guys are pretty confident that he'll be fine."
With the first trial against the Warriors now less than a month away and co-captains Greg Bird and Nate Myles not due back at training for another week, Zillman knows that the long off-season has formed a disappearing act that would impress most magicians.
"It does, it comes around so quick," he said. "When you finish one season you think you've got so long – what is it, five or so months until the next season – and then Christmas comes around like that and then you're a month and a bit away from playing. It does come around quick but we're ready.
"The first few weeks [of pre-season] we had a few guys who were away on World Cup duties so we had a really young squad. I think myself and maybe Ashley Harrison were the only older players that were training at the time so it's been a good learning curve for the young guys. They've had to step up and take a bit of a leadership role as well.
"We'll welcome 'Birdy' and Nate back with open arms but it has been a good experience."