Greg Inglis admits he has endured a “shock to the system” as he closes in on a return to rugby league with Warrington after an absence of almost two years.
The 34-year-old former Australia centre hung up his boots in April 2019 but was tempted into making a comeback by his old South Sydney team-mate Jason Clark and has been working hard to regain his fitness in pre-season with the Wolves.
“I’m gradually building into the training,” said Inglis. “It was definitely a shock to the system, after being out for two years and not doing such intense training.
“But I’m glad I’m doing it. I feel a lot fitter and better within myself.”
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Signed on a 12-month contract, Inglis will be the most high-profile addition to Super League XXVI which kicks off on March 26.
He hung up his boots after making 263 NRL appearances, which included five Grand Finals for Melbourne and the Rabbitohs, and winning 39 caps for the Kangaroos.
Despite the English winter and restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Inglis insists he has no regrets over his decision to come to Super League.
Melbourne Storm vs South Sydney Rabbitohs
March 11, 2021, 8:50am
He said: “Me and my partner ask each other at least once a week if we are doing the right thing and the answer’s always, ‘yes’.
“We look at the bigger picture. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“She’s got into horses over here, which is very similar to back home, and I get to do what I’m doing.”
Warrington head coach Steve Price says Inglis has already made a significant impact on the club.
“Greg’s been fantastic around the playing and the coaching group,” said Price. “He’s just a real humble, genuine guy who understands what it takes to get the job done.”
Price will put his team through their paces in Chris Hill’s testimonial match against Leigh on March 18 in the build-up to the opening league game against Castleford 10 days later, but Inglis warns it could take him up to six weeks to get up to speed.
“I’m confident within myself but, with the pitches over here, there’s a bit more emphasis on the lower end of your body,” he said. “We’ll wait and see how my first hit-out goes.
“You can train all you like but, until you get that 80-minute performance, on game day especially, you just never know how you’re going to handle it.
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“I’ll allow myself that little bit of leeway. If I can get to round three at 100 per cent, I’ll be stoked. If it takes until round six, it takes until round six.
“I’m not putting pressure on myself and neither is the club or coaching staff, you’ve got to keep in mind I have been out of the game for two years. It’s small steps.”
In addition to Clark, Inglis has renewed his links with his former Melbourne team-mate Gareth Widdop, who is hoping to kick on in 2021 after experiencing an injury-hit first season in Super League.
“It wasn’t the greatest of years for a number of reasons but it’s a new year and I’ve had a really good pre-season,” said Widdop, who says he has had no contact with England coach Shaun Wane since being left out of his training squad.
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