THIS time last year North Curl Curl junior Vic Mauro was recovering from back surgery.
Vic Mauro is hoping to make up for lost time with the Sea Eagles in 2010. Picture: ANNIKA ENDERBORG
A bulging disc meant the young Sea Eagle had to go under the knife, putting him out of action for six months and seriously undermining his 2009 NRL preparations.
By the time round one swung around this year Mauro was ready to go, but he was well and truly playing catch up.
With a host of forwards at the club’s disposal, the now 22-year-old knew he would struggle to get any game time.
“It doesn’t help at all when you miss the pre-season, you need to be training as much as you can to give yourself the best chance,” Mauro, back to pre-season training this week, said on Thursday.
“When you can’t train, it does get you down.
“When you see the others back training, you’ve just go to deal with it and stay positive.
“It set me back a little bit, that’s for sure.”
But now Mauro is back a week early ahead of pre-season training which officially starts on Monday at the Sydney Sports Academy in Narrabeen.
For the third season running Mauro will be part of Des Hasler’s top 25-man squad.
He actually made his debut against the Warriors in Auckland two years ago having started the season in Jersey Flegg.
Since then the nuggety forward has only played a further five senior games - including the Brookvale Oval semi-final against Souths in 2007 - without ever establishing himself in Hasler’s top 17.
“Hopefully there’s a bit of an opportunity there for me next season,” Mauro, who only played two NRL games this year, said.
“There’s a lot of good forwards ahead of me, I’ve just got to do my best and hopefully I’ll get a bit more of a chance.
“I’m still young, I’m still only 22, football is my passion.
“I’m not thinking about anything else at the moment.”
And with a two-year contract extension, securing him a place at Brookvale until the end of 2011, the Sea Eagles obviously have plenty of belief that the youngster will one day make it in the maroon and white.