Wakefield Trinity recruit Craig Kopczak says he is already feeling the benefits of standing down as Wales captain.
The ex-Bradford Bulls prop, pictured right, retired from international rugby league last year so was not involved in the end-of-season European Championships. Kopczak was a regular for
Wales ever since debuting in 2007 and went on to make 22 appearances, captaining them in two World Cups.
However, the 32-year-old reckons the decision to call it a day has quickly paid dividends.
WATCH: Kopczack delighted to be back with Yorkshire club
“It’s definitely helped me,” said the front-row, who joined Trinity from Salford Red Devils in November.
“I’m not getting any younger and I want to prolong my career. Taking a bit of backward step with the internationals, - just having that break at the end of the season - is something my body really needed.
“Clogger (Trinity conditioner Martin Clawson) has been great with me back at Wakefield getting stuck in.
“It’s been a tough but enjoyable pre-season at the same time.”
While Kopczak worked with Clawson in his early days coming through the ranks at Odsal, he is also relishing being back alongside someone else.
Fellow new signing Danny Brough was his captain at Huddersfield Giants when they won the 2013 League Leaders’ Shield.
“I’ve played with Broughy for many a year and I know what he’s like,” said Kopczak.
“He’s a leader, a general out there on the park and a motivator.
“He can lead us around the park, tell us what to do - and if he keeps his head we’ll be alright!
“It’s good to be in the same team again.”
Trinity, who have a friendly at Newcastle Thunder tomorrow, Saturday, have bulked up their pack even more with the arrival of Kopczak adding to the likes of giant front-rows David Fifita, Keegan Hirst, Anthony England and Craig Huby.
“It’s brilliant - I don’t have to tackle them anymore!” he joked. “I’m playing with them and that’s one of the main factors why I wanted to come here: To play with a big team.”
Kopczak added: “With the additions like Broughy in the halves, it’s going to be great for them if we can get that go-forward.
“They can play off the back of us.
“Hopefully we can roll some teams and let them (backs) do the business.
“I’m really looking forward to the season ahead and getting dug in.”