Why Konrad is smiling through pre-season pain
Every Monday of pre-season Titans players are put through a torturous conditioning drill called MAS.
It stands for Max Aerobic Speed and for half the squad on Monday that entailed 62 reps of a 70-metre sprint with a 15 second gap in between.
Yet through gritted teeth and bouts of vomiting, still Konrad Hurrell kept smiling.
That's the equivalent of sprinting for 4.3 kilometres, yet when teammates looked sideways for reassurance, all they saw was Hurrell's grinning face smiling back at them.
He consciously wears this brave face because he knows what it means to see light when there is so much pain but that infectious grin also stems from a deeper understanding of how fortunate he is to be where he is today.
Hurrell's mid-season signing from the Warriors and the waiting warmth of the Gold Coast in many ways rescued him from the deep recesses of his mind but it was an off-season trip with fellow Titan Leivaha Pulu as part of the Cure Kids Fiji program that reaffirmed to the 25-year-old just how lucky he is to be a Titan playing in the NRL.
<blockquote class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned data-instgrm-version="7" style=" background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% - 2px); width:calc(100% - 2px);"><div style="padding:8px;"> <div style=" background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:62.4537037037% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;"> <div style=" background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAABGdBTUEAALGPC/xhBQAAAAFzUkdCAK7OHOkAAAAMUExURczMzPf399fX1+bm5mzY9AMAAADiSURBVDjLvZXbEsMgCES5/P8/t9FuRVCRmU73JWlzosgSIIZURCjo/ad+EQJJB4Hv8BFt+IDpQoCx1wjOSBFhh2XssxEIYn3ulI/6MNReE07UIWJEv8UEOWDS88LY97kqyTliJKKtuYBbruAyVh5wOHiXmpi5we58Ek028czwyuQdLKPG1Bkb4NnM+VeAnfHqn1k4+GPT6uGQcvu2h2OVuIf/gWUFyy8OWEpdyZSa3aVCqpVoVvzZZ2VTnn2wU8qzVjDDetO90GSy9mVLqtgYSy231MxrY6I2gGqjrTY0L8fxCxfCBbhWrsYYAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;"></div></div> <p style=" margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;"> <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/BMCuHgrjDDr/" style=" color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;" target="_blank">Blessed to be apart of it 🙌🏻🙌🏻 @curekidsfiji best experience ever #day2 #bula #ouuua</a></p> <p style=" color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px; margin-bottom:0; margin-top:8px; overflow:hidden; padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;">A photo posted by koni_Naala (@koni_hurrell) on <time style=" font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px;" datetime="2016-10-26T22:14:26+00:00">Oct 26, 2016 at 3:14pm PDT</time></p></div></blockquote> <script async defer src="//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js"></script>
During their five-day visit Hurrell and Pulu participated in programs aimed to help increase water harvesting capacity in small Fijian villages in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Winston and screen more than 100 children for rheumatic heart disease, a key initiative of the Cure Kids Fiji program.
Hurrell and his five siblings grew up in Tonga with what he now appreciates were the bare necessities but says that his upbringing looks positively extravagant given what some kids in Fiji are dealing with on a daily basis.
"They don't have much the kids, hardly have any food or water, the way they shower and everything," Hurrell explained.
"It looks very bad but for them it's everything. It feels like they have everything they want.
"They're excited, they're always happy when we see them and it just brings you back to where you need to be in terms of headspace and everything.
"Here we have everything and we're still kind of like still wanting more but when you go back and see what they have, it was amazing. A good experience. Me and Vaha were blessed to be a part of it, travelling around and doing some stuff for the kids, it was amazing.
"It took me back to back home.
"My mum and dad didn't really have a good job but we had a house, we had food every day and it didn't feel like we were struggling at all.
"My mum and dad never said anything about it and then when we grow up a little bit older we understand what they have been through.
"It's just amazing how they work hard for us and to look back to the kids, it was a good feeling. I can't really explain it."
The positive energy that permeates Hurrell in everything he does is appreciated by his teammates just as much as those bullocking runs that he was delivering on a weekly basis towards the end of the season.
From the time he became a permanent member of the Titans squad in Round 19 Hurrell ran for 1,453 metres at an average of 161 metres per game and has returned to pre-season in good shape ready to make 2017 even bigger and better.
"He just makes you feel happy," says Titans five-eighth Tyrone Roberts.
"You're at training and you have those dark days and you can just look at Koni and he's smiling for no reason.
"He makes you more humble. He's just one of those people with a smile on their face no matter what.
"He's good for the young kids too because they just want to be quiet and he's just so approachable because he's always smiling."
And while his happy demeanour comes naturally, Hurrell admits that there is a conscious effort to keep the mood upbeat during the toughest time of the NRL year.
"I know I'm not the fittest in the team but I know if I work hard and try and make someone else smile just to forget about how hard training is it will be good," said the Tongan international.
"When I went back to Fiji I got in a good headspace and now I can come here and just play footy and be happy.
"Nothing to stress about and if I play good I'll be happy. Got to train hard to play good."