BEFORE the start of the season, Eels prop Darcy Lussick knew what was coming.
Round one it was veteran Willie Mason. Round two it was James Graham and Aidan Tolman. The next week it was Ben Matulino. Last week it was George Burgess and this week it's Aaron Woods.
For most opposition front-rowers that might lead to a lot of sleepless nights.
For Lussick it meant one thing: hard work.
"I put in one of the toughest preseasons of my careers," Lussick said.
"Fitness was my main priority and I managed to drop another five kilos after losing a fair bit at the end of last year.
"I wanted to make sure I was in the best shape I had been in heading into a season."
It wasn't just the opposition players he was focused on.
He had one eye on his own teammates — and the starting front-row spot.
In round one he achieved his goal of making the run-on team against his former club Manly.
"There is a lot of competition for forward spots here, especially in the front row so that kept driving me during the summer," said Lussick, who has now played 71 games in the NRL.
"I wanted that starting spot and to play my former club in the opening round made me want to get the spot even more."
Lussick, the 2013 Ken Thornett medal winner, said the first 20 minutes has been a priority for the Eels after a series of slow starts.
"We have let ourselves down with penalties and errors at the start of games and we have given other teams too much possession and it's hard to come back from that," he said.
"Brad [coach Brad Arthur] has been vocal in making sure we get off to better starts and giving ourselves a chance in games."
Lussick said he was happy with his own start to the year and he expected another tough game this week against the Wests Tigers on Easter Monday.
He is also hoping the Easter Bunny brings him a special surprise.
"I'd love to score a try. I scored one with Manly in my first year but I haven't scored one for Parramatta," he said. "Timmy Mannah and I talk about it all the time. We are always talking about new ways to get over the line but it's not easy. Hopefully at some stage this year I'll get one."
Eels play on Monday at ANZ Stadium at 3pm.