Wakefield Trinity star David Fifita hopes to be fit for Super League round one but will not rush things - revealing his self-esteem was hit by playing “embarrassingly” while injured last term.
The popular Australian prop was an early contender for Steve Prescott Man of Steel after some brilliant form in the opening months of 2019.
That was curtailed by a foot injury suffered at Magic Weekend in May and, though he was back in action the following month, he struggled to recapture his best.
Fans favourite Fifita had been playing through the pain barrier but eventually it was agreed he would go in for surgery in August and he missed Trinity’s desperate battle to avoid relegation.
“It was torture,” recalled the ex-Cronulla Sharks player.
“You had some probably saying I was faking injury and until we actually got down to it (diagnosis), it was hurting myself and my self-esteem.
“It was hurting my family, too, and it was just frustrating on a personal level.
“I was just embarrassing myself after the start I’d had and it was just going downhill from there.
“We got to the bottom of it (the injury). They found out what it was and it’s just been a long injury to recover from - six to eight months. Torture.”
Fifita, 30, joined in full training last week and has targeted being ready for the opening game against Hull KR in a fortnight’s time.
“I enjoyed it and that’s what you miss; the full bash,” he said.
“It’s coming along good and hopefully I’ll be there for round one.
“That’s the goal. We’ll have talks with the physio staff but if I’m not ready I won’t embarrass myself.”
Meanwhile, the former Tonga international, who was born and raised in Sydney, has been helplessly looking on as the Australian bushfires continue to cause such destruction.
“It’s all around us,” he said.
“All my family back home are a bit out west so it’s not far from the Blue Mountains.
“It’s just heartbreaking. My heart goes out to all the families who have lost all their homes and you see what is happening to the animals, too.
“You see it on the world media and it does hurt. You just pray every day for some rain.
“But then you talk to your family and they tell you it’s 40 degrees again. You just wish you could be there helping out.”