Michael Burgess is a sports writer for the Herald on Sunday.

League: Hurrell in best shape of his life as season looms

Konrad Hurrell is working hard in Warriors pre-season training. Photo / Photosport
Konrad Hurrell is working hard in Warriors pre-season training. Photo / Photosport

Konrad Hurrell is ready to deliver in 2016, after making some dramatic changes off the field.

There have been many twists and turns in his career since he arrived on the scene in 2012 but finally this year fans might see Hurrell Mark 2.0.

He's changed his diet, his focus and his living arrangements. The Warriors centre has also changed his body and is working with professionals on the mental side of his game.

There have been similar 'I've got to change' pronouncements from Hurrell in the past but this time, the penny may have dropped - a timely development, as there might not be many more chances.

Hurrell, who will feature in the Auckland Nines next weekend, knows he is at the crossroads. He played only 12 games last year, scoring just four tries after managing at least 12 each of the three previous years.

He lost confidence and the club lost faith in him. He spent time in the New South Wales Cup towards the end of the year while Warriors coach Andrew McFadden preferred arguably less talented but safer options. And heading into 2016, there is extensive competition in the centres, with Blake Ayshford, Ken Maumalo, Tui Lolohea, Solomone Kata and Jonathan Wright all vying for spots.

Hurrell has taken steps to give himself the best chance of success this year. He cut short his annual trip home to Tonga, wary of previous overindulgence there, and stayed fit while there with boxing sessions with his brothers.

He's moved into his own house in South Auckland and cut back on his use of social media, which had become an undoubted distraction in recent years.

Perhaps most significantly, the 24-year-old has taken a more professional approach to his preparation, prioritising sleep, plenty of water and, most importantly, a good diet. He's ditched the takeaways and believes he's in the best shape of his life.

"Last year was one of the worst of my footy career," said Hurrell. "I've been playing off the bench. That's not my position. I want to play the full 80 minutes. This year, I have gone back to the start, sleeping, eating right, learning the little things off the field."

And those who matter have noticed.

"There is no doubt he is in the best shape he has been in," said McFadden. "He's lean, which you need to be when you're playing in the outside backs, and he's done all the work, so he's going to give himself a really good chance to have a big season."

Success came maybe too quickly for Hurrell. Thrown into first grade in 2012, he scored 12 tries in 17 games and was one of the NRL's hottest prospects.

The next year was similarly impressive but then things went off the rails. Hurrell reported for pre-season 10kg overweight, followed by a social media sex tape scandal later that year. And instead of being a player to build a team around, his merits were hotly debated as he struggled to find a place in the 17.

"I need to train hard, be prepared for it and fight to get my spot back," said Hurrell. "I need to keep it humble and hopefully get it back. I've got something to prove. Like every year, I'm still learning and with the young boys coming in, it doesn't make it easier for me."

- Herald on Sunday

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 11 Dec 2016 11:36:47 Processing Time: 1150ms