Manly lock Jake Trbojevic says he's 100 per cent ready to leap back into first grade after being a late scratching from Manly's 16-12 loss to the Rabbitohs last Thursday due to a knee injury.
Following a three-day break for the entire first grade squad after a gruelling run of three matches in 11 days with back-to-back five-day turnarounds, Trbojevic told NRL.com that his omission last week had been a case of safety first.
"It was just a minor injury; it just pulled up sore after the Roosters game and with the short turnaround it was just a minor setback and needed one week off," Trbojevic said.
"It was nothing too bad, the physio just didn't want me to run on it and risk being out a bit longer."
The 22-year-old has stepped his work rate up significantly in 2016 after having already done so in his breakout 2015 season, moving to lock and playing 73 minutes in Round 2 then back-to-back 80-minute games in Rounds 3 and 4.
The combination of the higher workload and some short turnarounds conspired to force him out of one game but the Mona Vale Raiders junior said he doesn't think his on-field role has shifted too much.
"It's been pretty similar actually, I've been enjoying it, you get to play a few more minutes and that sort of thing but the role is pretty similar," he said of his shift to the No.13 jersey.
"Obviously it's a similar role to front row but I get to play a few more minutes and it's always good being out there longer."
He also praised coach Trent Barrett's edict for the players to get away from footy and refresh themselves for three days after the Souths game before returning to training on Monday.
"It was really good, those three games were pretty tough so it was good to have a few days off and then a bit of a longer turnaround then we head over to New Zealand and it's going to be tough over there so the rest was needed for a few of the players," he said.
The short break was also welcomed by another young star in hooker Matt Parcell, who is himself adapting to a dramatically increased workload in 2016.
Although he was no stranger to 80-minute games playing for Ipswich last year he had six shorter games for the Broncos at NRL level and job-shared the Manly dummy-half duties with Api Koroisau for the opening two rounds before playing almost every minute of Manly's past three matches.
"I pretty much played 75, 80 and 80 [minute games] in 10 days so I was pretty sore after it but the body will get used to it," Parcell told NRL.com
"I'll get a lot of confidence out of it. That's probably as tough as it's going to be load-wise throughout the year. This nine-day break's been good just to rest up and the body will be better for it and hopefully I can continue to improve throughout the season."
He said while those three matches made for a "solid" workload, he had always been confident in his ability to get through it.
"It was good to show that and now I've got to keep improving. I've still got a lot of work to do. Hopefully we can train a bit more with the nine days and hopefully we can work on some combinations and keep improving," he added.
"It was really good to get a few days off just to let the body rest and get away from footy for a bit but we're back into it now this week.
"It was a big 10 days before that so it was good to get a couple of days off and just reset and refresh."
The three-day rest also won't hurt stand-in halfback Api Koroisau, who was recalled to first grade to replace Daly Cherry-Evans before racking up a massive 11 tackle breaks and 25 tackles with two line breaks and a try in a rare man-of-the-match performance from the losing side.
"Oh man, I can't tell you how sore I was after the game!" Koroisau laughed. "Those five-day turnarounds do take a toll on the body."
He said the three days off had been amazing in terms of helping him freshen back up, duelling flatmate Dylan Walker on the Xbox in their time off.
Walker also said the break had been "massive".
"To have those three days off it mentally refreshes you and makes you more excited to come back to training and really rip in and play this week," Walker said.
The Sea Eagles leave Australia on Thursday for New Zealand where they face the Warriors at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday.
This article was first published on NRL.com.
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