Gold Coast Titans front-rower Luke Douglas felt he was in reasonably good shape when he returned to training yesterday but admits he struggled with his first training day with the squad.
Douglas, who the previous day completed the ASADA enforced ban for unknowingly taking banned substances, has been training hard away from the group under a program set by Titans strength and conditioning coach Dan Ferris and consultant Tim Gabett who are happy with his fitness level.
“I pushed myself pretty hard, maybe too hard,” said Douglas who had been training early morning where possible for the previous month but had an afternoon field session of mostly running after a weights session on return.
“I was in bed early last night but it was really good to be back with the boys and sort of draw a line in the sand and move forward.
“It will take me a couple of weeks to catch up, I knew that.”
It ended an extremely difficult period for Douglas however the 28-year-old prop, who holds the NRL successive appearance record at 215, is focussed on putting the ban behind him and having a successful 2015 season.
“It’s obviously been a very tough period, first watching the boys play the last three rounds and not being part the great win against Canterbury to finish the season, and then when they returned to training which was a bit of a fresh start at TSS with new coaches and teammates,” Douglas said.
“I pride myself on doing the right thing and having a good lifestyle and being a role model. But despite believing I had done nothing wrong, my reputation has been tarnished to an extent. That’s been the hardest thing to accept.
“But I can’t change that now and I just want to rebuild respect in how I conduct myself on the field and in the community, which is important to me.
“I’ve really appreciated the support I’ve had the past few months from teammates, mates, family and supporters of the game. It has meant a lot to me.”
Teammates warmly welcomed Douglas back into the fold at 10am Monday and he was back today for a 7am start today.
“All I can do is put the ban behind me, and the appearance record, and work as hard as I can on my game, which I’ve always tried to do,” Douglas said.
“It’s an important year for the Titans. This is my 10th season in the NRL and I’ve only played two finals games, both with Cronulla, so I don’t need any more motivation than that to leave no stone unturned in ensuring 2015 in a big season for the club.”