HE is the strongest Bronco to ever represent the club, but at times this year David Hala held genuine doubts on whether his injury-plagued body would see another NRL game.
The 109kg powerhouse, who bench pressed 187kg last year to set a club record, was reduced to a physical and mental wreck when he ruptured the patella tendon in his knee against the Storm in round 12.
It was just the 22-year-old's 17th NRL game, and his first since fighting back from a broken foot during pre-season training.
For all his brute strength, Hala played just 73 minutes in 2012.
But after a successful operation, the Redcliffe junior hopes to be fully fit for the 2013 trial matches and is expected to challenge Josh McGuire and Ben Hannant for front-row game time following the retirement of Petero Civoniceva.
"The injury left me mentally drained - it took two months for me to get out of my brace and walking properly again," he said.
"The doctors took out some of my hamstring and put that in my knee. It all went well, but it took five months for me to start running again."
Hala said Civoniceva and Jharal Yow Yeh, who also missed the majority of last season after suffering a broken ankle in round four against South Sydney, had offered plenty of support.
"Petero had two broken arms in his career, so he offered some really good advice, and me and Jharal have done a lot of hard rehab work together," he said.
Hala is now on a mission to repay the Broncos.
And that's not only for the club's support during a tough 2012 season, but for the faith it showed in signing him after a disappointing stint at the Roosters.
As a 16-year-old, the hulking prop moved to Sydney, turning down interest from his native Brisbane, to sign an $80,000 contract.
But it was only a matter of months before he suffered injuries and his weight blew out to about 120kg.
It was the Broncos that came to the rescue, taking him back into their system midway through 2008, for a meagre $5000.
And the club re-signed him this year for another two seasons.
"That was a hard experience, moving to Sydney straight out of high school," Hala said.
"I missed my family a lot, I was homesick and I fell off the tracks a little bit.
"The Broncos gave me another chance and I knew I had to take the opportunity.
"I didn't have a break during the off-season, doing rehab work and trying to get myself fit again. I'm doing everything I can to repay the club."
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