SYDNEY - Parramatta talisman Jarryd Hayne has revealed he'll enter the 2013 NRL campaign in the best physical shape since he was a teenager.
The NSW star sat out the Eels' 44-4 trial defeat by the Wests Tigers on Saturday, underlining once again his importance to the team who've won just three times in his absence in four seasons.
The Eels finished bottom of the ladder in 2012 and claimed a first wooden spoon in 37 years with Hayne featuring on just 12 occasions.
A knee injury sustained in a trial against Penrith last year hindered the fullback for much of the year, but he still managed to score eight tries and help his side to four of their six victories.
The 25-year-old looked sharp in the NRL All Stars clash in Brisbane, scoring a long-range try, and said his decision to miss the Tigers game is not something he would've done in the past.
"I didn't play last night as so I could have two weeks to recover from the All Stars game," Hayne said on Sunday.
"It's one of those things, I like to be on the field, I don't really like training. When I actually did my knee it was during a game.
"It's something I've had to learn. It's one thing good that did come out of last year, I now know when to hold back and when to push my body."
New Eels coach Ricky Stuart told Hayne he needed to be the fittest he's ever been if he wanted to stay at fullback.
Stuart has previously said he felt Hayne's best long-term position was five-eighth.
And the former NSW coach has been true to his word, subjecting the representative star to his toughest ever pre-season.
"It's been tough, some of the sessions are right up there with the hardest things I have ever done," he said.
"I've pushed my body to the point that I haven't been able to in pre-seasons in the past.
"It's my first full pre-season since I was 17 and that has been the most pleasing thing about it, I feel really strong.
"There's another trial next week against Penrith. I'll play in that and then head into round one in great shape."
Eels halfback Chris Sandow has told fans not to take too much notice of Saturday's heavy defeat.