Former Panthers centre Jamal Idris.
Former Panthers centre Jamal Idris. MICK TSIKAS

NRL mean machine now a lean machine

THIS isn't another redemption story. This is a head-down, arse-up kind of tale.

It should come as no surprise that Jamal Idris has always been a big guy.

As a kid, he carried a few extra kilos around his waist and they followed him into his teenage years.

So after a year-long hiatus from the game in order to travel the globe, you'd be forgiven for expecting Idris to return to rugby league a little heavier than usual.

But that's not the case.

In fact, he's lighter than ever.

In the clearest sign yet that the former Test centre is primed for a big return with the Wests Tigers, Idris has dropped 11kg over the summer.

So what's his secret?

It's quite simple. It started with a goal, moved on to some hard work with a trainer from the hit TV show The Biggest Loser and finished with 24 new teammates and a coaching staff to impress.

"When I signed I said 'I've had time off, I'd rather start now so I can have a base before I go into pre-season," Idris told

"I did a little work with (Biggest Loser trainer) Shannon Ponton out in Manly. He's a legend of a bloke. He did a lot of mental work with where my head needs to be to get back in it.

"I started with (assistant strength and conditioning coach) Alex (Kertesz) and we trained three or four times a week about a month before pre-season started."

The lightest he has ever been during an NRL pre-season, the dreadlocked giant weighs in at 114kg.

Put into perspective that his usual playing weight is about 120kg and it's no small feat.

But what's equally as impressive is his work in the gym.

While the skin fold readings are down, he's stronger than ever and still the explosive ball runner as when he burst on to the scene with the Bulldogs in 2008.

"I've run my best time in our 1.2 (kilometre) time trials, I'm lifting the heaviest I've lifted too," he said.

"They asked me what my goal weight would be to play at and I said 115 and at the moment, I'm at 114. That's before the season even starts. At Penrith, I was playing at about 121 ... When I was at the Dogs I played at 115. I know I'm at my best when I'm at 115."

Eager to get back on the field, Idris has wasted little time earning the trust of his new teammates.

According to edge partner David Nofoaluma, there's also a lot of admiration for the hard work he's been putting in.

Last week, the Tigers had their first opposed training session for the year and it was Idris who had everyone ducking for cover.

"I feel that he will be that exciting player again," Nofoaluma said.

"His attitude and what he brings to the team, we know what he's capable of doing and he looks damaging at training.

"Instead of doing that at training I can't wait until he does that to someone on the opposing team."

Having been away from the game since season 2014 ended, Idris admits he's excited to play his first game for the season.

Pushing for a place in the round-one squad, he'll likely get his first taste during the trials in a few weeks' time.

In the meantime he's been trying to contain his enthusiasm at training.

"I actually miss the contact," Idris said.

"You're playing against your own boys so you don't want to get too physical.

"I hold back because you don't want to be the guy running at 100% throwing palms and bumping off guys but sometimes you do get a bit eager."


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