Cronulla enforcer Andrew Fifita has bulked up to 124kg after feeling he was playing too light in the opening rounds of the NRL.
Running out against the Dragons last round for his first match since lockdown, the experienced prop was criticised by some for looking out of shape, but Fifita insists the extra size is all part of the plan.
The 30-year-old set up a gym in his home after the competition was halted and set about adding 5kg of extra bulk to his legs, which he feels he can carry thanks to playing reduced minutes in the twilight of his career.
“The first two rounds I was playing at 119kg which felt way too light for my liking,” said Fifita, who racked-up 43 minutes against the Dragons.
“I wanted to go up and put the muscle in the right places for me, especially in my legs, so that was the main focus over the break.
“That’s what’s best for our team and (with) the limited minutes that I’m getting now, I can afford to put on those extra kilos.”
Fifita’s plans to come back strong after the NRL shutdown hit a hurdle when he suffered a calf tear on the first day the Sharks returned to training, sidelining him for two matches.
But he is now over that and his chronic knee problem – which required further surgery last December – is also feeling good.
“My knee’s actually really good at the moment,” he said.
“I don’t really feel it – I’m squatting 270, close to 300 kilos.
“It was just about getting that calf right.”
Contracted until the end of 2022, Fifita remains motivated by the thought of another premiership, although that looks a long way off for the Sharks after just one win from five rounds this season .
They face fellow battlers Canterbury this Sunday night at Bankwest Stadium.
“The worst thing for me was winning a comp,” he said. “I’ve had the taste of glory and that’s the thing I’m chasing now.
“You just expect it and think it’s going to come easy but it’s one of the most difficult things to try and do.”