Tom Learoyd-Lahrs strolled towards the grandstand at No.1 Oval looking fit enough to crash into a Maroons defensive line.
And that’s no exaggeration. You half expect his little finger to bulge.
It has been two seasons since his 120-game, three-club NRL career ended at the Melbourne Storm, but the former Australia and NSW representative says he weighs 120 kilograms – only five kilograms heavier than his listed playing weight.
Put that down to the 32-year-old’s need to continually feed the competitive animal inside him.
It’s a desire that, if the weather is kind, will see him make his first-grade cricket debut on Saturday – a season after West Tamworth convinced him to play for the club when he was a guest speaker at their end-of-season presentation night.
Learoyd-Lahrs – a medium pacer and a second-grade middle order batsman – has been named in West Tamworth’s side for their one-day clash against City United at No.1 Oval on Saturday.
He was scheduled to play in Wests’ Twenty20 match against South Tamworth at No.1 Oval on Friday night but it was washed out.
“For me it was about finding something I could play competitively,” he said.
“My body’s taken a fair hit over the years playing footy, and I think you never lose that competitive edge … It’s [cricket] a different challenge for me physically. Mentally, I’m certainly enjoying it.”
Learoyd-Lahrs played cricket at Nemingha Public School and then at Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School, before giving it away at “about 14 or 15” to concentrate on league.
West Tamworth president Kristian Grattan said Learoyd-Lahrs had made great strides as a player, adding: “He’s a very good club man.
“He’s just a good player to be around … You wouldn’t know he’s an ex-NRL player.”