Souths forward Kyle Turner jokes his teammates have taken to calling him 'Fresh Legs Freddie' after just one reserve grade game in five weeks but following last week's recall to the top grade is ready to make his mark in the closing six games of the season.
Turner insists the Bunnies aren't looking at the ladder – which would reveal even a perfect six wins from here is no guarantee to land them a finals berth – but is hopeful a resolute effort against the premiers last week is an indicator of some sturdy performances in the run home.
"The coach (Michael Maguire) told me I needed to go back [to reserve grade] and work on the little areas of my game and I went back and did that and I got back in the side on the weekend," Turner told NRL.com on Monday.
Since starting at lock in place of an injured Sam Burgess in Round 15, Turner has played just once – at lock for the Bears in the Intrust Super Premiership in Round 18.
His 31-minute stint against the Sharks last Friday included a rapid 21 tackles, plus 75 metres and two busts. Crucially he produced no missed tackles or errors in an energetic and well-rested return to top grade footy.
"Yeah the boys were calling me Freddy Fresh Legs, I came out there and I was buzzing around!" Turner laughed.
"But I felt good for the two weeks off and I think it showed in the game.
"Mainly [the reason I was dropped] was my defence, I was lacking in those areas.
"I could feel it in myself, I got fatigued very easily and it was affecting my defence and I wasn't up to scratch to play in the NRL so [Maguire] told me to get back to working with those little one percenters and I'll get my shot and that's what happened."
Having played four games at prop this season – in part to accommodate the emergence of star back-rower Angus Crichton – Turner said he isn't yet sure how much time he will spend in the front row to close out the year but is keen to spend more time in the middle rather than an edge.
"You're doing all the hard yards in the middle whereas on the edge you sometimes get that little break. I don't mind it actually, I think I like the middle rather than back row," he said.
"You sort of get your hands on the ball more, you get to be in the nitty gritty stuff and you get that involvement in the game."
While Turner is happy to step in and again cover for Sam Burgess if needed with the skipper under an injury cloud after picking up a rib cartilage injury against Cronulla, Turner expects the captain to line up.
"[Burgess] will be monitored during the week, we'll see how he goes training wise but I think he should be right," Turner said.
"But regardless who's in the side we've got 17 blokes stepping out there on the field to do the job for us. We all know what we're capable of and what's at stake now so it's a matter of going out there and doing it."
The immediate task is to find a win against a Raiders side who will be stinging after a frustrating home loss to the Storm at the weekend.
"Their forwards are big, strong fast and their backs can create something out of nothing so we have to be on our game when they come up to ANZ," Turner said.
"It's our home game, we have to treat it like our home game and go out there firing and deal with what they dish out to us.
"They're still in the run for the finals as well so it's do or die now, everyone's in for those wins and every game's crucial, it will be a fiery game."