Western Force captain Ben McCalman says his year of shoulder issues has been a blessing in disguise heading into the 2017 Super Rugby season.
McCalman twice broke his shoulder while playing for the Wallabies in 2016.
Although it meant his international season was cut short, it's left him fresh and raring to go for the Force this year.
McCalman will take on added responsibility this season after taking over from Matt Hodgson as Force skipper.
"It's been a while now since I've played, but it's been great having that extended break," McCalman said.
"I probably needed it having played consecutive seasons - going to Japan after the World Cup (in 2015).
"It (the injuries) have been a blessing in disguise I guess. It's allowed me to have a break and an actual pre-season, which I haven't had for a long time."
McCalman said new Force recruit - Wallabies hooker Tatafu Polota -Nau - had been a vital addition to the squad.
"Taf's great. He's a different personality that's for sure, but he's great to have around," McCalman said.
"He's great for the young blokes as well.
"He's brought experience to our young front row - probably a position we thought we might have been light-on before the season."
The Force's pre-season progress under new coach Dave Wessels will be put to the test on Saturday when they play the Perth Spirit in their first trial match.
The Force will then play a trial against the Melbourne Rebels on the Gold Coast on February 6.