Darius Boyd insists the hard yards he put in before Christmas on the training paddock will pay off on the field in 2018 as he continues one of the rare full pre-seasons of his career.
The Brisbane captain missed the 2015 pre-season after tearing an Achilles tendon in December of 2014 and last year he returned late following the 2016 Four Nations campaign.
He did have a full pre-season prior in 2016, a season in which he was at his very best for Brisbane and Queensland winning both the Paul Morgan Medal as Broncos' player of the year and the Ron McAuliffe Medal for the Maroons' player of the series.
An injured hamstring kept him out of the Broncos' opening two finals fixtures in 2017 and he did not complete the preliminary final against Melbourne.
Sitting out the World Cup gave him the opportunity to rehab the injury and return to his best in the upcoming Telstra Premiership season.
"I think you really do need the extra training before Christmas," Boyd told NRL.com.
"It gives you a really good base and sets you up for when you come back in January so you can hone and fine-tune your skills, and it gives you that extra strength.
"When you come back in mid-January from a tour or a World Cup you are playing catch-up but I have found that when I've had a pre-season from November I've always had a pretty decent year.
"I'm hoping that is the case for this coming season."
Boyd is back training with the full squad now and said he gained plenty of benefits from his pre-Christmas work.
"I've enjoyed doing rehab and working on areas where I needed to improve on my own personal body," he said.
"When you are back with the normal group you are just getting kilometres in your legs but I've been able to concentrate on certain areas that are week and need some strength or flexibility.
"It is just the one hamstring that was a problem, but I've worked on both hamstrings and my calves…everything that can help that hamstring a bit more and be stronger all-round."
Aged 30 and with 267 NRL games and two premierships to his credit, along with 28 Origins and 23 Tests under his belt, Boyd is the most experienced and decorated player in the Broncos backline.
Anthony Milford is the next most experienced player at the club with 118 NRL games but is only 23 and still in the early stages of his career.
Boyd's absence in the 2017 finals series cost Brisbane dearly and club legend Steve Renouf said his regular presence on the park this year would be vital.
"Darius guides the attack and organises the defence at the back with his chat and he is just such a stable influence and so important to the team," he said.
"In attack he chimes in and does his own thing or he throws that cut out ball for the winger and he does it so well, so he is virtually another playmaker out wide.
"As the captain the players look to him for inspiration, as we used to do with Alfie Langer.
"Darius sat out the World Cup to work hard on that injury and get himself fit and in the long term it is going to be a big benefit."