After only recently recovering from a potentially fatal heart condition, Canterbury Bulldogs lock Greg Eastwood has gone from contemplating retirement to targeting a new multi-year contract in the NRL.
It is now well-documented the long-serving Bulldogs forward suffered a concerning irregular heartbeat late last year that required surgery.
After returning to full training in January, the veteran of 26 Tests for New Zealand has since featured in both the club's trials.
He scored a try as a near full-strength line-up accounted for a sloppy Raiders team a fortnight ago. Last Saturday he produced two muscular stints at Belmore as a reserve grade Canterbury team made a near full-strength Penrith outfit look pedestrian, with Eastwood masterfully leading a young pack against the likes of James Tamou, Trent Merrin and Reagan Campbell-Gillard.
Eastwood told NRL.com that while the heart murmur was scary he was now hoping for a few more years in the NRL.
"I'm just glad to be on the field playing. I wasn't sure what I'd be doing when I had that heart scare but just to get on the field and enjoy my footy again is good. I'm just enjoying it week by week," he said.
"Once I had the surgery I had to wait until the second week of January until I got the all clear to start back with the team so once the doc gave me the all clear I wanted to rip in and try and get some good form back into my game.
"Whether it's starting or off the bench I just want to bring energy because I've been out of the game a while now and I'm sort of taking on that senior role and helping the young guys come through and it's all paying off."
Eastwood said the condition – effectively an extra heart-beat – could potentially have been life-threatening.
I wasn't sure what I'd be doing when I had that heart scare but just to get on the field and enjoy my footy again is good.Greg Eastwood
"When I got the extra heartbeat my heart rate would go through the roof and cause me to faint and they said if you keep going you could go into cardiac arrest and have a heart attack which is a bit scary.
"They gave me an operation, they sort of burnt that extra heart beat off when they found it and thank God it's all working for me and I'm able to play again."
Having also missed most of the second half of 2017 with a troublesome knee injury while also appearing out of favour with coach Des Hasler, Eastwood is enjoying a new lease on life under new coach Dean Pay.
"To miss half of last year was a bit hard,'' he said.
''Towards the end of last year the physios still weren't happy with my knee and sort of said 'if you're not going to make the finals just build it and work really hard on rehab and getting it really strong for next year.'
"I did that, came back in good shape after Christmas and ready to rip in so I guess I'm getting the benefit now in the trial games and hopefully get a start next week.
"Dean's been unreal, he's real honest with what he wants, what he expects and the boys are all willing to put in. There are a lot of good kids around the club, they keep you on your toes. He hasn't picked his side yet but hopefully the performance I had is enough to get a spot to go to Perth next week."
Asked about what his future holds, the 30-year-old said his expectations have changed dramatically over the past couple of months.
"When I had the heart scare I was thinking about retirement," he said.
"I just wanted to get back on the field and start playing footy and hopefully the rest takes care of itself. I love the Bulldogs, I've been here nine years now so hopefully I can get another few years at the Dogs, but if it's not meant to be I've got another few seasons left in me.
"If you're still playing well and still feel good then it's however long you can go. As long as I'm playing good and doing my part for the team I'll keep going."
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