DAVID Nofoaluma played in excruciating pain caused by a double hernia for virtually all of last season, even to the point he had to roll out of bed to avoid the physical agony.
Nofoaluma was one of the first players to sign a long-term deal with the Wests Tigers earlier this year, despite high-profile teammates James Tedesco, Aaron Woods and Mitchell Moses holding off - and later passing - on their own contract extensions.
While it was painful for Nofoaluma to farewell some of the club's pin-ups, it was nothing compared to the physical discomfort he felt in his lower abdomen from round seven onwards.
The 24-year-old underwent keyhole surgery to have two hernias removed as soon as the season finished, as well as groin surgery.
The winger continues to recover and is will resume full contact at training in the new year.
There is even a chance Nofoaluma could wear good mate Tedesco's No. 1 jersey, and once played fullback with Tedesco on the wing when they played junior reps together at the Western Suburbs Magpies.
"The hernias were called 'sportsman hernias', it gives you lower abdomen pain and takes your power away,'' Nofoaluma said.
"I tell you what, I don't want to experience it again.
"I couldn't do certain movements. When I was tackled, it was hard to do a crunch. Even sitting up, I couldn't get out of bed _ I had to roll out of bed.
"I relied on some tablets the club gave me for the pain, but it didn't do much. I struggled all year. And because there was no depth, Ivan (Cleary) needed me out there.''
Nofoaluma led the NRL for tackle busts at the start of the season, and despite his form dipping in the back half of the season, it was still remarkable considering the pain he was in, not to mention he marked up on bigger wingers every week.
Kevin Naiqama, Tui Lolohea and Nofoaluma are all fullback contenders for Tedesco's famous jersey.
With so many new signings around the club, it reassured Nofoaluma he made the right call by agreeing to a four-year deal when there was so much uncertainty.
"I signed, then a week later we signed Ben Matulino, that gave me a bit of happiness, then we signed (Russell) Packer two weeks after that, and it made me even happier,'' Nofoaluma said.
"Then (Josh) Reynolds come in, and I thought, 'we've got a good chance next year', and there were signings after signings.''