KONRAD Hurrell looks back on his off-season with embarrassment and regret and knows he still has to make up ground with his club after returning to pre-season training 10kg overweight.
The 22-year-old allowed his weight to get out of hand while holidaying in Tonga after last year’s World Cup and the Warriors coaching staff were none too impressed when Hurrell turned up at pre-season training.
It cost him a place in the NRL side for the first two weeks of the season and, even now, he still has to content himself with a spot on the interchange bench.
“I regret the off-season,” he said. “It’s about being mature enough and professional for 12 months of the year. I need to follow the advice I get given because that’s what I get paid for.
“It’s just food. The portions of my food need to be a lot smaller. I need to be mature. I have learned a big lesson because I let the club down and let my brothers down and I also let my family and myself down.
“At first I thought it was off-season and I didn’t need to do any training, but it was a dumb move. When I came back I had to work five times harder than what I usually do because of how I came back. It was a relief to be back in the team last week.”
Hurrell made a significant impact off the bench in the important 20-16 win over the Cowboys last weekend, when he scored a try and made a number of telling runs playing in the back-row. It was the first time he had ever played in the forwards and, while he covets a return to centre, that’s where his immediate future lies.
Coach Matt Elliott said he thought Hurrell had improved his fitness sufficiently that he was capable of playing 80 minutes at centre but once again opted for Jerome Ropati and Dane Nielsen in the centres for Saturday’s game against the Wests Tigers in Wellington.
“He showed in the weekend he can do a job for us in the middle,” Elliott said. “I feel his long-term future is definitely at centre but his integration back into the team serves us best at the moment as someone who can play across a few positions.
“This will be a massive benefit for him. It will heighten his intensity as far as his level of fitness goes but it will also give him great insight into what the players inside him are exposed to in a game.”
Hurrell said he already has a better idea after only 32 minutes on the field in Townsville.
“I thought playing in the outside backs was hard but the middle was so hard,” he said. “I’m just happy to be back in the team and I will try do my best. I still reckon I’m a centre so hopefully I will work my way back into the side soon.
“I was really nervous before the [Cowboys] game because I knew I would have to do a lot more work than the outside backs. But I love the physical game so I was excited to be in the middle.”
Simon Mannering was ordered away from training today because of illness but will be fit to play on Saturday and break Steve Price’s record of 91 games as Warriors captain.