Braith Anasta is leaner and keener than ever.
Which is why he won't be hanging up his boots at the end of the season.
"At the moment, I'm not even thinking about retirement," Anasta told the Herald at the NRL season launch on Wednesday night.
The Roosters captain, off contract at the end of the year, is hopeful of remaining at Bondi Junction for at least one additional season. That's despite blowing out the candles on his 30th birthday - and the fact that Warriors pivot James Maloney will arrive in 2012.
"I'm not going to be one of those players who goes too long in trying to prolong my career," Anasta said. "For me, it's about playing quality football. I've been playing some quality over the past couple of seasons and I feel I've got this season and another season ahead quite comfortably and then I'll assess it after that. I've turned 30 this year and I'm feeling fit."
So fit that Anasta has dropped 5.5 kilograms during the pre-season in readiness for his switch from the back row to five-eighth.
"I've lost a lot of weight, I'm as fit as I've been," he said. "I'm excited, I don't think it's my time at all. I've changed my diet and trained a bit differently to what I usually do. I'm moving to five-eighth so I need to be as agile as I can and pick up a bit of speed too. I was 101 [kilograms] going into pre-season and I'm about 95.5kg now. I'm in a real good space at the moment."
Anasta will partner Mitchell Pearce in the halves following the departure of Todd Carney to Cronulla. Whether there will be room under the salary cap to retain Anasta next season – particularly if All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams joins in 2012 – remains to be seen. However, the former NSW and Australian representative is hopeful something can be worked out.
"I'd love to stay," Anasta said. "I'll be talking to the Roosters in the next couple of weeks to try to secure a deal. That's where I want to be, that's where I want to finish my career. Hopefully I don't need to look elsewhere. We'll see what happens."
The Roosters boast some of the best young talent in the game and their squad is the youngest in the NRL. There are high hopes for several rookies, particularly centre Tautau Moga, described by Anasta as "the real deal".
"Without a doubt, he's outstanding," Anasta said. "He scored 35 tries last year in SG Ball and Toyota Cup. He's made the transition in pre-season, becoming bigger, faster and stronger. He's 106 kilos and looking fit, a natural talent."
The flipside is that the squad is relatively inexperienced – Anasta, fullback Anthony Minichiello and winger Sam Perrett are the only members over the age of 25. Not that Anasta is complaining.
"I love it. It's been good for me, having a young squad," he said. "My responsibilities are probably greater than they've ever been and I've enjoyed taking on that role as a leader and as a captain. Having those young guys bouncing off me has made me enthusiastic and keen to win a premiership again.
"We've got a really young team and our discipline through the off-season has been faultless. We've gone under the radar on and off the field and our trial form has been fantastic. It's exciting for us, I feel we can really do some damage this year."
The Roosters open their 2012 campaign against arch rivals South Sydney on Monday week.