South Sydney NRL forward Ben Te’o is responding to the challenges set by Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire, as he tries to keep his inner teenager at bay.
With former leaders Roy Asotasi and Michael Crocker no longer at the club, Queensland Origin forward Te’o has become a more senior member of the star-studded side.
He is in his second season with the club after a 2013 campaign in which allegations of assault dogged him, before police and the NRL Integrity Unit found the back-rower had no case to answer.
Maguire demonstrated his faith in Te’o by making him captain of the Souths side in the nines tournament.
“I think I’ve changed my approach to football,” Te’o said.
“I’ve always taken it serious, but with my preparation and mental approach to the game has changed a lot.
“He (Maguire) challenges me a lot on and off the field to do the right things, lead by example.
“Sometimes I forget that I’m a leader in this team. I’m 27 now, but sometimes I act like I’m 18.
“He’s someone that pulls me up that and make me remember that these young guys watch what you do.
“I’m having fun. I’ve lost a little bit of weight and I think I’m getting round the park a little bit better, so I’m enjoying myself.”
While no-one would mistake 105 kg Te’o for a lightweight he said being slimmer was to his advantage.
“I just think (I’ve lost weight) so that I can have more involvement and spend more time out on the field and contribute,” Te’o said.
“Sometimes being a little bit lighter can count against you when you come up against some of those big boys, but I’ll back myself there.”
Souths captain John Sutton said he hadn’t put on weight despite moving from the backs to the forwards, but had found the move tiring.
“It’s a whole different ball game in the middle there, I’ve only played two games there, so I’m just working my way into it,” Sutton said.
“As the year goes on I’ll be playing a lot more minutes and getting more runs and more tackles on the board.
“It’s just a different ball game in there. A lot more running, a lot more tackling. I’ve just got to get used to it.”