Andrew Fifita has revealed the sweltering off-season torture sessions he kept quiet from his Cronulla teammates which he hopes will prolong his NRL career.
For most of last year, the Tongan Test forward struggled with a debilitating knee injury and was left unable to walk for three days after some games.
The 29-year-old feared his career was at a crossroads and over the summer stripped 9kg from his giant frame during secret gym sessions which he says have put him in the best shape of his career.
Over the off-season, he would spend an hour to an hour-and-a-half on an exercise bike in a special heated room at Bodyfit Miranda, and the fruits of his hard toil have been on show during the opening fortnight of the 2019 campaign. “They’ve got this heater room. It’s fully hot; a 40-plus room,” Fifita told AAP. “I was in there cycling away at night even after I got pumped at training, I had to make it a habit.
“I had some torturous time in there. But it was my own little dungeon; try and strip the weight off a bit.
“Over the long run, it was gonna be better for my knees. I had to get down (in weight) and it was one of the best things I did over the off-season.” Fifita was determined to keep his battle to shed the kilos from everyone at the club and did it outside training hours.
“You carry the bike up there and they’ve got these big heaters on the roof, I think it’s used for Bikram Yoga,” Fifita said.
“It got that hot in there, you hardly had to pedal, I was sweating bullets. “Those days, there was plenty of head noise. But at the end of the day I knew it was going to be good for me.
“It was personal, I didn’t want anyone else knowing but it worked out. “I’m in the best shape of my life and it’s a long time since I’ve been at this weight.” While always renowned for his big motor, coach John Morris has flagged that Fifita is set for more game time in 2019 after playing 73 minutes in Saturday’s win over the Gold Coast.