The last few weeks have been a pretty exhausting time if you're a member of the Warriors.
The first-grade squad are in the midst of their pre-season training build-up with trainer Craig Walker pushing the team to their very limits to ensure they are in tip-top shape for 2012.
For the likes of old hands Micheal Luck and Jacob Lillyman, pre-season is just part of what it means to be in the NRL. It's tough, but it has to be done.
For the likes of former Junior Warriors skipper Ben Henry, who, alongside three others, will be promoted to the first-grade squad for the first time next year, it's a sharp learning curve and a good example of how hard you've got to work to earn a jersey.
"My body's still aching," he admitted to Sunday News.
"Hopefully we won't be going too much longer. Hopefully this is the last week [before Christmas]."
Next year will be a big year for Henry, who turned 20 this week.
After two years as the captain of the Junior Warriors, leading the side to back-to-back Toyota Cup titles, he's about to be thrust into the world of rugby league hard knocks, also known as the NRL.
He reflects on 2011 with fondness, but his goal for the year ahead is clear. Get a run with the Big Boys. Earn a chance to show what he's got.
"So many things have happened so fast, especially with that title being won again by the NYC team," Henry said.
"It was pretty special to be part of that and then, a couple of weeks later, I'm training with the first-grade side, so it's pretty special.
"I just want to train my hardest. If I don't secure a spot in that starting 17, that's all right because there's the Vulcans team. My goal is to play with the big boys though, for as long as I can."
And while Henry's eyes are certainly on snaring a first-grade debut next season, he knows that first he'll probably have to spend time with the Vulcans, the Warriors' New South Wales Cup feeder side.
The young electrical engineer sees it as a good stepping stone.
"Talking to Fisi [Glen Fisiiahi], he thought the Under-20s was where it was at and then he started in the Vulcans," he said.
"The amount of skill, the players are bigger, you've got to be smarter and that.
"It's a challenge but I like challenges. I just really want to get out there and start playing at the moment.
"Back in the day, you'd come out of playing Bartercard Cup and you go straight into NRL.
"It must have been a lot tougher but now with the junior competition and the Vulcans, you can ease yourself in, slowly blood yourself."
From next season Henry has two more years on the Warriors books, with a club option existing for 2014.
By the time that season rolls around, the young leader will be hoping those pre-season training runs have become a regular part, not a novelty, of his NRL experience.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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