He spent more time away from the playing field than he had planned but a refreshed and relaxed Jesse Bromwich is raring to go for the Melbourne Storm against the South Sydney Rabbitohs on Saturday night.
Bromwich benefited from extra time at the club after missing last year's World Cup when the Kiwis banned the Storm prop and Gold Coast Titans forward Kevin Proctor from selection after they were caught using recreational drugs after the Test loss earlier in the year to Australia in Canberra.
The extra time on the training paddock, instead of putting himself through the rigours of the international arena, will help, according to the 28-year-old forward.
“It's been a tough pre-season," he said.
"It's something I've really enjoyed. I've missed being around the young boys, with all the older boys being out, it's good to be around the club. It's good to be at home around the family for a bit."
Bromwich will line up for his 184th NRL game on Saturday when Melbourne face Canterbury in Perth and has enjoyed building combinations with some of the club's recruits.
"We did lose a few important fellas last year. They've moved on and we've got a few new guys. (Sam) Kasiano has come down have done a great job, Patrick Kaufusi has gone a good job. I just think a couple of the boys from last year being a year older, it going to pay big time for us,” he said.
"I think it can only be good, not only physically but also for the younger boys as well.
"I think you form the best relationships under stress and doing it tough. It's definitely what we did over the summer break.”
Bromwich is expecting some stiff challenges in the middle against a solid Bulldogs pack that includes Aaron Woods, David Klemmer and Josh Jackson.
"They are very aggressive," he said.
"They've got some big bodies there in the middle. I just think Woods brings a passing and off-loading game to the pack. I know that Klemmer is pretty aggressive."