With his final surgery just five weeks ago complete, Wellington Cowboys coach Justin Toomey-White is back at training and hopeful he can pull on the boots in his side's Group 11 grand final defence in 2020.
In September 2018, just weeks after having their season brought to an end by Forbes, the then 26-year-old was diagnosed with bowel cancer.
Thankfully, Toomey-White was recently given the all clear after undergoing treatment during most of last year.
While in treatment, he coached the Wellington Cowboys to their famous, drought-breaking premiership, the title coming with a win over Dubbo CYMS in the 2019 decider.
I started training a few weeks ago, getting myself sorted. But we'll just take it a day at a time.Wellington coach Justin Toomey-White
The grand final was described by Toomey-White as an 'unbelievable' end to a 'roller-coaster' year after the Cowboys' 19-10 victory.
But with his health improving and the desire to play again still very much intact, Toomey-White has been slowly getting back onto the training paddock.
"I started training a few weeks ago, getting myself sorted. But we'll just take it a day at a time," he said.
"I am looking to get onto the footy field, there's some boxes I need to tick before I run on.... but I will let the professionals give me the best advice... but my goal is to get back on that footy field in 2020."
Reflecting on the Cowboys' 2019 journey, Toomey-White said it had been amazing to see not only the side's growth but the club's as well and the Wellington outfit will be looking to take even more positive steps in 2020.
"We've retained a majority of our boys from our winning side last year and we're in talks for a couple of new fellas to come to the club but nothing is 100 per cent as of yet," Toomey-White added.
With the pre-season starting next Tuesday, Toomey-White said the Cowboys will be looking to prepare themselves for 2020, which shapes as even tougher than their premiership year.
"We've enjoyed our break and spending time with family and friends but now (we'll look) to get our season on track," he said.
When asked what he will be looking for this year, the Cowboys coach reiterated his 2019 mantra of 'consistency'.
"As we all know we had a pretty good season on the field winning two premierships but we also kicked some really good goals off the field so we'll be looking to do more of that community work and get our training on point," Toomey-White explained.
The Cowboys coach is hopeful the club can achieve the same top results they did in 2019.
"I don't think any rugby league player doesn't play a season not to win a grand final. It would be silly not to," Toomey-White said.
"But the results will come after hard work and with the 18s and league tag making the (2019) semi-finals, they will be looking to go one step better.
"And reserve and first grade will be looking to retain that premiership status."
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