For the first time in as many seasons as he can remember, Cronulla prop Aaron Woods has punched out a full NRL pre-season to emerge as fit and light as he has ever been.
The former Australian and NSW prop has spent the past few seasons playing from the bench at the Sharks, but eyes 2020 as his chance to enhance his leadership role with the club.
Losing premiership forwards Paul Gallen and Matt Prior from the front row means the Sharks will need more from Woods than ever - and he's ready to deliver.
"You lose someone like Gal with his experience going into every game ... we need people to step up and that includes myself and (Andrew) Fifita," he said.
"I've come off the bench for the majority of my time here at Cronulla so it's a big opportunity. I've got to take it with both hands.
"I usually come back (to pre-season training) after Christmas.
"I'm usually chasing my tail in January when all the boys are firing so it was good to actually come back and actually be fit at this stage of the year.
"I'm feeling good, it's probably the lightest I've been in a while."
The loss of leadership experience was one of the reasons the Sharks blocked a request by star back Josh Morris to join his brother Brett at the Roosters this season.
The 33-year-old is tipped to start the season at fullback for the Sharks as Matt Moylan battles a hamstring injury, and he showed he's not kicking stones by scoring three tries in the NRL Nines over the weekend.
Woods said Morris was open and honest with the playing group about requesting a release but said the club was right to deny him.
"Things happen in rugby league, you know? I signed a four-year deal with the Bulldogs and six months later I was at the Cronulla Sharks," he said.
"To his credit he's come back and ripped in.
"Three tries (on Saturday), he had a kid last week and he's jumped on the plane to play with the boys so it shows the character of the bloke.
"It's not like he's dropping (his head) and coming in and being angry and trying to duck and weave.
"It's probably a good opportunity for him to go there (Roosters) but as a player at the Cronulla Sharks, I don't want to let a leader like that go. He's a leader and a role model."
Australian Associated Press