Western Force hooker Nathan Charles was a Wallaby just a year ago, before a pectoral injury put a pause on his time in green and gold.
The injury, in Australia’s Bledisloe Cup match in Brisbane, ended his year and despite making it back for the start of the 2015 season, Charles admitted he struggled to reach the same heights in 2015.
After an indifferent season, Charles took an extra break in 2015, not playing in Australia's National Rugby Championship – instead ensuring his body was in peak condition.
“The confidence, it probably took a bit of a hit (in 2015),” he told the Australian Rugby Union's official website.
“I thought I would come back the same player I was but I definitely didn’t and the 2015 season for me personally was quite disappointing.
“It was a bit of a rollercoaster after a fantastic 2014. It’s just made me hungrier to get back there.”
With a full break behind him this season and his body feeling “better than ever” heading into the 2016 season, Charles said he was optimistic of rediscovering that 2014 form.
"The injury was unfortunate but it is what it is, that’s rugby,” he added.
“That time I had recently to get the body back together, I feel great and hopefully I can hit the ground running in 2016.”
The 26-year-old has been working with an individual strength and conditioning coach in a bid to try and avoid another serious injury, after missing all of 2013 with a knee injury before his remarkable 2014.
He said there wasn’t any magic solution, it was simply a matter of understanding his body’s biomechanics.
‘It’s more about individualising the program and knowing how my body works and how to get the best out of it,” explained Charles.
A Wallabies return remains at the back of the hooker’s mind but he says his immediate focus is on making himself indispensable to his team.
“I want to be that player that the coach thinks, ‘I’ve got to pick him first and foremost’ every single time,” he said.
“(I want to) make it difficult for him to not put me in the team.
“I just want to be able to be the best I can for the team.”
While the Western Force has bolstered its backline to fit a more attacking game plan in 2016, Charles says there’s just one place he’ll be hanging around.
“I’ll just go through what’s called, ‘Fat Man’s Alley’ and sneak a few tries hopefully,” he said.
“I stay in the middle, let them (the wingers) do the hard work and hopefully the ball comes back there."