ke a pair of old bulls down in the middle of the holding yard, don’t be putting Luke Lewis and Paul Gallen out to pasture just yet.
The Cronulla Sharks pair, who each reached the 300-game milestone last season, are also off contract at the end of the 2018 Telstra Premiership.
And like Gallen, who is waiting to see how mind and body feel as the season unravels, Lewis is in no mood to call it quits even if he turns 35 before the finals comes around.
“I’m exactly the same. I’m feeling really good at the moment,” Lewis told NRL.com.
“I’ve always said I’ll see how my body feels, what my body is telling me. Right now I feel fitter, stronger, my head is in a really good place at the moment.”
Entering his 18th season of first grade, you would think Lewis’s body is doing some whispering at least.
“Not yet. But I’ll know. It’s when you don’t want to get out of bed and go to training,” he said.
“The soreness after a game is fine, it’s not a physical thing.
“It’s when you battle your mind to get motivated. But at the moment I love turning up to training. I love doing all the fitness, going to the gym, doing the weights and drills. And I love being on the field with the boys and testing myself.”
Unlike Gallen who did announce the end of his representative career, Lewis made no such proclamation. The selectors just stopped picking him.
Although he’d still like to be in those circles, Lewis having fewer games helps recovery. Another huge bonus is Sharks high performance expert Andrew Gray.
“I reckon it’s the way I train and not playing as many games since I’m out of the Origin and Test teams. But Andrew Gray has been outstanding for us and for me.
“He knows about my body better than I do. I honestly feel better than I did this time last year. The best thing is I’m really enjoying my footy right now.
“But if the body tells me half way through the year ‘You’re done’ then that’s it.”
Halfway through last year and Lewis was leopard-like. In round 16 and round 17 against the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles and Sydney Roosters, he pounced on loose paces to race 80 metres at Southern Cross Group Stadium and then 90 metres and Central Coast Stadium to score tries.
Asked what he wanted out of 2018 and Lewis said immediately: “A couple more intercepts would be nice.”
A third premiership ring would be nicer. Lewis is in the rare group of winning Telstra Premiership titles with different clubs – Penrith in 2003 and Cronulla in 2016.
“The door is always closing shut, maybe slowly, but it’s always closing no matter where you are in your career,” Lewis said.
“There’s no such success like the one you experience winning a grand final.
“So I’d love another premiership. To win another grand final is the ultimate goal – and it’s obviously 15 other teams’ goal as well.
“But we’ve got a really good squad here at the moment and the squad we’ve got it together for the next three to four years. The opportunity is there to give it a real good shake.”
One of the newest members of the squad is Lewis’ former Panthers teammate Matt Moylan.
“I knew Matty pretty well at Penrith as he did a couple of pre-seasons with us. I’ve always had raps on Moyza.”
Moylan being added to the Sharks backline may indeed be a masterstroke to helping the club to another title, but where in the backline?
“I think his best position is at fullback because we all know how good he’s been there,” Lewis said.
“At the same time his skill level and his attitude to learn – along with a bit of mongrel he’s got in him at the moment – makes him a good candidate for five-eighth. He gets the ball in his hands more there and that can only be a real bonus for us.
“He can also kick goals pretty well. Then again, Trent Hodkinson is a good goal kicker too and Chad (Townsend) and Val (Holmes) have been hitting them through at training.
“So there’s not pressure on Matt to kick our goals. If he wants to, he can, but there’s others around.”
So body purring and mind no longer churning, Lewis is ready to soar in 2018 – and perhaps 2019.
“Basically I just want to have more fun. I enjoy what I do and I love this team. As long as I’m doing what the team wants for me, I’ll do it at 100 miles an hour.”