A tongue-in-cheek feud with Gold Coast teammate Konrad Hurrell is helping Queensland Origin forward Jarrod Wallace in his NRL comeback from three separate off-season surgeries.
The 26-year-old had minor groin and shoulder operations last year and a small ankle procedure prior to Christmas.
But Wallace, who has been engaging with Hurrell in a good-natured war of words about their fitness in recent weeks, says he's ahead of schedule and hopeful of playing in at least one of the Titans' two pre-season NRL trials.
The pair locked horns in the club's gym on Tuesday, the 45-minute boxing session a chance for both to make a statement after a series of playful pot shots at each other during interviews and on social media in recent weeks.
Wallace laughed that Hurrell was currently fighting in his own weight bracket, but on a serious note expressed his frustration at his own stop-start pre-season.
Adding to his agitations, the Maroons incumbent is also suspended for the first two games of the NRL season for a shoulder charge.
"It's been a very frustrating pre-season for me so far, coming back from groin and shoulder and everything coming good then went over on my ankle," he said.
"I'm not going to lie; it does suck knowing the boys will be out there for two games and I'm not going to be there.
"I know they're digging in deep, I need to make sure that when it's round three and I'm ready to go that I'm flying."
With captain Ryan James likely shifting from the front row to the edge this season, Wallace will lead the side through the middle of the park in 2018.
And while he hopes to play in the Titans' trials on February 17 and 24 against Brisbane and the New Zealand Warriors, Wallace says in Penrith recruit Leilani Latu they have someone ready to step up in his absence.
"He's a big boy, really tall, thick and strong and one of those guys that's hard to handle," Wallace said of the 24-year-old Tongan international.
"He's fit at the moment, running well and skills with the ball are outstanding.
"He will (make an impact); he's come here to do a job and has that mentality that I had coming from the Broncos, wants that full-time starting role and the way he's training at the moment he's showing he can do it."