Hymel Hunt fit and firing for Souths
Rabbitohs centre Hymel Hunt says he is completely over the pectoral injury that threatened to prematurely end his first season at the club.
The 23-year-old ruptured his right pectoral muscle after just six minutes during his side's Round 8 loss to the Broncos, cutting short what had been a highly impressive start to his career in the cardinal and myrtle.
Hunt had established himself as one of the premier defensive centres in the game after a string of impressive performances playing inside Alex Johnston, and it was sadly ironic that he suffered the injury attempting a try-saving tackle on Corey Oates.
Hunt was expected to miss the rest of the 2016 Telstra Premiership season but came back earlier than expected to help his side overturn a horror mid-season losing streak.
"It was very frustrating and it got me down a lot because I put so much work into my pre-season and I was happy with how I'd started the season. For me to get injured and miss 10 or 11 games was unfortunate," he told NRL.com.
"The whole group helped me get through it. We're a really close group here at Souths – we're all brothers and we're all like one big family – so after the game that I got injured, everyone came up to me to see how I was going and offer their support.
"During recovery, all the boys would come up to me at training and make sure I was alright. Without the support of the boys and my friends and family, I wouldn't have been able to get through it with such a positive outlook.
"We had a string of games that we lost so I spoke to 'Madge' (Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire) and our medical staff and we made a massive push to come back early.
"We pushed the barriers a bit, but we also had to weigh up how smart it would be to come back too soon. We timed it well and I ended up coming back in 13-and-a-half weeks which is quite fast for a pec injury. I came back fully fit for the last five games and we won four of them so it was worth it.
"After losing that string of games, we wanted to give back to the fans who had stuck by us through the tough times. We just wanted to give the fans a vision of what we'd do in 2017."
The 2013 Holden Cup team of the Year member declared himself "100 per cent fit" and said he was itching to get the season underway, starting with this weekend's Charity Shield clash against the Dragons.
Hunt also put his hand up to be one of South Sydney's leaders in 2017, revealing his intentions to help youngsters Braidon Burns and Tyrell Fuimaono find their feet in first grade.
"We've got a good medical team with Eddie Farah and all the other physios and they've done a lot of rehab and recovery to make sure it's in perfect condition. I'm feeling confident with my body now and I'm ready for a big year," he said.
"I'm 23 years old now and there a few younger boys coming through. I'm trying to push the younger boys by being one of the leaders of the team. I want to be a big voice in the group and have a big presence on and off the field."