After a three-month layoff from a major hamstring tear more common in AFL than rugby league, Titans centre Dale Copley has overhauled his training program to make sure it doesn't snap again.
Copley suffered the injury in the round 17 loss to the Broncos. At the time he was on track to play the most games in a season since his stellar 2014 year with Brisbane when he played all 25 games.
The 27-year-old has had his share of misfortune on the injury front. In 2015 he had a shoulder reconstruction in the offseason and then suffered a hamstring strain, torn calf and fractured eye socket in a year from hell.
His 2018 setback ended what had been a promising season.
"I missed eight games but that was only because there were eight games left but it would have been a 12-week injury had it happened at a different time of the year," Copley told NRL.com.
"It was my first real big hamstring injury after two strains in the last five or six years so it is not something that is ongoing, but this was quite significant and frustrating because it came from nowhere.
Five key matchups of the Titans' 2019 draw
"There was tendon [issues] involved so the staff were very cautious about re-occurrence. We don't see a heap of those injuries in the NRL but the AFL see quite a lot of them because of their high speed running and picking up balls."
Copley is doing plenty of hamstring strength exercises to make sure he can get through the pre-season but with a change of focus.
It is nice to have a bit of depth because we haven't really had that at the Titans since I’ve been hereTitans centre Dale Copley
"We are trying to be a bit more preventative rather than be reactive after the fact," he said.
"I had another hammie injury on the other side last season which I only missed three weeks from but to have two in a year wasn't ideal.
"I am just doing more of [the exercises] and having more of a focus on it. All the clubs and players do it but probably more as a warm-up exercise whereas I am treating it more as a strength-based exercise and part of the actual training program as opposed to just a functional movement to get myself going."
Copley said he would be back in full training by Christmas and "100 per cent by round one".
When Garth Brennan arrived on the Gold Coast last year he told NRL.com that Copley was one of his favourite players whose name he had jotted down in "a little black book".
Brennan backed that high praise up by picking Copley in all the 13 games he was available for, of which the Titans won six. The Gold Coast only won two of the 11 matches Copley did not play.
Titans' top five tries of 2018
The former Bronco has been around long enough to realise there are no guarantees and with Tyrone Peachey, Brenko Lee and Brian Kelly on deck, the centre positions at the Titans will be hotly contested.
"There are plenty of bodies Garth can put in there so I guess it will come down to the pre-season and the trials," Copley said.
"It is nice to have a bit of depth because we haven't really had that at the Titans since I’ve been here. There is competition in the centres, but it is the same for front-row, back-row and right through to the bench. That is brilliant at this time of year and will get the best out of everyone."