Hull KR prop Robbie Mulhern is determined to reap the benefits of a full pre-season and take his game to the next level in 2020.
The forward ended an impressive 2018 campaign representing England Knights in Papua New Guinea and his career was on an upward trajectory.
But while the Knights trip was a valuable experience for a prop just starting out, it proved to be a double-edged sword.
“Last year I came back the week before Christmas, trained that week and then had a break and then straight into January so I didn’t have a pre-season,” he told Hull Live.
“I think it made a big difference when we got into the season. I was a bit sluggish at the start of last season.
“It was weird because I was still training at home but it’s very different training at home than in pre-season. It’s the first time I’ve ever done that so I didn’t know what to expect.
“I remember when I came back I did the initial fitness test and did really well so I was like ‘I don’t need much extra stuff’ but in hindsight I probably needed a lot of extra training.
“It’s just all part of the learning curve, I suppose.
“It was a tough year with all the injuries. We had some very tough times but last year is behind us now and we’ve just got to focus on next year and making sure we all stay as fit as we can.
“I know there’s going to be injuries but it’s how we deal with them. Hopefully we won’t be as unlucky as we have been the past couple of years.”
While many of his fellow props struggled to stay fit, Mulhern made 26 appearances and his effort could never be questioned.
With a frustrating 2019 firmly behind Rovers, the 25-year-old is aiming to recapture the form which put him in contention for full international honours.
He added: “I’m looking to get there and surpass it if possible. I want to try and push myself as far as I can.
“That’s the good thing about this group – everyone is striving to be the best player they can. It’s a really positive environment to be in.”
Mulhern is expected to start the season in the front row but he faces a fight for his spot with Tony Smith adding depth to the pack in the off-season.
Far from being overawed, Mulhern would welcome extra competition for his place.
“To be honest I probably think we could do with a couple more,” he said.
“We are likely to get a couple of injuries and the more competition for places, it does breed even more competitiveness, especially with the reserves now.
“If you’re out of the team one week, you know you’re going to have to work hard and play well in the reserves to get called back into the team.”
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