Hurrell in 'career-best' shape after break

There was a time not so long ago when the Warriors couldn't trust Konrad Hurrell with having time off.

He proved on numerous occasions that he'd use it to overindulge on food and take shortcuts wherever he could in his training schedule.

Those things were directly responsible for at least two of the occasions where he was axed from the starting side over the past three seasons.

So after Hurrell copped a three-week suspension in Round 9 you could have forgiven the club for feeling a little nervous about how the Tongan international would deal with the layoff.

But there was no need, as Hurrell chose to dedicate the time to get himself into the best shape of his four-year NRL career with the help of former Warriors and Kiwi internationals Monty Betham and Ruben Wiki.

"In the past with Konny when he has had a break it hasn't been the best thing for him," Betham told NRL.com.

 

A former professional boxer in addition to his seven-year league career, Betham used his experience from both sports to put Hurrell through a series of gruelling sessions in the gym over the past three weeks, adding to the extra fitness work the centre has been getting with Warriors strength and conditioning coach Ruben Wiki.

"Konrad had three consecutive sessions with me where I simulated a game. I think we did above and beyond what you go through during a game in terms of fatigue," Betham said.

"We got him there nice and early in the morning and my sole purpose was to put him through his paces and really inflict some pain on him to try and simulate a match.

"I also know he has been getting a lot of 'Wiki Love' as well in terms of fitness, I know Ruben has been taking him and doing a lot of extra work.

"When I had the first session with Konrad I was pretty impressed with how hard he pushed, but in the last two he went from strength to strength.

"I have seen a change in his body shape in terms of how ripped he is and more definition too."

Speaking ahead of his NRL return this Saturday against Roosters at Mt Smart Stadium Hurrell said he couldn't wait to get back into it, and that he still has eyes for a Kiwis jersey at the end of the season despite his limited game time so far in 2015.

"I think this is the best shape I have ever been in my career, so I am really looking forward to it," Hurrell said.

"I am looking forward to this weekend… I am pretty excited to get back into it, I always love playing against the Roosters and they are a tough team.

"I want to do well for the Warriors now and then I am eligible to play for the Kiwis, which has always been a dream for me as a kid, so hopefully I will be there."

The next few weeks will determine whether Hurrell stays in the Warriors' top 17, or has another season where he ultimately fails to fulfil his potential.

But Betham believes at 23 years of age the former Holden Cup revelation is starting to finally understand what being a professional rugby league player is all about.

"He's taking being an athlete very seriously, but also what he does in the community," Betham said.

"He shaved his beard off the other day for a worthy charity, he is working pretty hard with what he does on and off the field.

"I know Manu [Vatuvei] has been working really hard with him in terms of being a positive influence. 

"He can be one of the best centres this club has ever seen if he puts his head down… the only thing holding him back was probably what he did off the field in terms of maybe not being the ultimate professional.

"Ability wise I think he is the most damaging centre in the game."