Titans prop Shannon Boyd returned to pre-season training seven kilos lighter than last year as he strives to rediscover the form that took him to a Test jersey in 2016.
The 27-year-old is on track to be fit for round one next year after undergoing a major shoulder reconstruction in the wake of an injury suffered in the round 17 clash with Penrith.
Boyd is in the midst of a six-to-eight-month recovery period where he has kept himself in top shape and will be back doing contact work in mid-January.
"I was seven kilos lighter this year when I came back for day one training compared to last year. This year I was around 125 kilos whereas last year I was 132," he told NRL.com.
"I've watched what I've been eating and when I went back to the [family] farm in Cowra I did a bit of work and trained more than I usually would. I am running a lot better at training and feeling really good.
"Obviously you want to play your best and I think the best footy I played was in 2016. I have played well in games since and been where I wanted to be but I have been too inconsistent. I want to play good consistent footy next year and enjoy it."
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In the trial game against the Broncos on the Gold Coast this year Boyd was on fire in the opening 20 minutes with his fierce charges and quick play-the-balls the catalyst for the Titans leading 18-0 early. He them came off with a dislocated thumb and the Broncos fought back to win the game. Boyd struggled to replicate that kind of form in the 13 NRL games he played for the Gold Coast in 2019.
It is the kind of football played by giant Melbourne prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona that Boyd wants to replicate in 2020.
"We have guys like Jai Arrow, Jai Whitbread and Moeaki [Fotuaika] who can all play big-minutes but I still think there is a place for us big boys in the game," Boyd said.
"You look at big Nelson [Asofa-Solomona] and he might only play 40 minutes but he runs big metres and is very effective. That is what I need to get back to with the big carries, quick play-the-balls and being more aggressive in defence as well. All of that can turn momentum in games."
Titans captain Ryan James has no doubt Boyd has put himself in position to play at his best next year.
"Shannon Boyd at his best played for Australia and that is the form we want him to get back to," James told NRL.com.
"He is just one of those players who adds the intimidation factor when he is fit and healthy. The shoulder injury last season didn't help but he has cut back a fair bit of weight and everything is in place for him to be fit for round one
"In the first couple of weeks of training he has probably trained the hardest of all of us and is getting the kilometres back in his legs running up and down the sideline."
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Boyd said he had embraced the training of new head coach Justin Holbrook and was also enjoying working with assistant coach Jim Dymock. The penny has well and truly dropped with the players that last season's wooden spoon finish cannot be repeated.
"The way that Justin has approached everything has been really positive and there is a lot better attitude around the place," Boyd said.
"There is no whinging or complaining about things. Everyone is buying in and it is good to see. Everyone is really hungry after last season and the club is at that point where we have to do well.
"I like Justin's approach. He is not trying to be over-the-top. It is all about the basics and fundamentals. Last year we had so many errors and that is why we lost so many games. The little details he has brought in I think will be a big help for us. The field sessions seems to be running a lot crisper.
"Jim Dymock has been really good. His structures are simple but work well and that is going to help with our defence."