Sydney Roosters superstar James Tedesco believes the new six-again rule and an enforced break from the rigours of football during the COVID-19 lockdown have helped make the game's best player even better.
Fuelled by back-to-back dinners of home-cooked cattleman's cut steaks from his local Rose Bay butcher, Tedesco scored three tries and set up another two in a performance he rated as one of his best as the Roosters humbled Canterbury 42-6 on Monday night.
Already regarded as the best player in the game after winning last year's Dally M Medal, Wally Lewis Medal and RLPA Player's Champion award, Tedesco's five-star effort against the Bulldogs was an ominous warning for NRL rivals.
"I am just really enjoying my footy at the moment," Tedesco said. "The last few years have been pretty full-on, I have had two grand finals, rep footy, internationals … when the footy season starts everything is pretty fast paced, on the field it's tough work and off the field as well.
"Footy is everywhere you look so just having that time to myself, having my own routine, my own training schedule and just working on things I needed to was really beneficial for me.
"I think that break refreshed me mentally and then I just got that hunger back for footy when I came back to training."
Match Highlights: Bulldogs v Roosters
The NSW and Australian Test fullback is thriving under the decision for referees to re-start tackle counts rather than award a penalty for ruck infringements as he is always close to the ball.
With the ball in play for longer during matches, Tedesco has been able to exploit tiring forwards defend around the ruck.
Asked where Monday night ranked among his best performances Tedesco said: "That's probably up there, having a lot of high involvements and just working around the ball.
"This new rule is probably helping my game a lot where it is a lot more fast-paced and the middles are getting more tired," he said. "That is helping me find space around the ruck.
"Where other teams would have a lot more breaks to get their breath back, with this new rule its very high paced and fast footy. It definitely helps our team and it helps me play my best footy as well."
With the clash against the Bulldogs postponed from Sunday afternoon to Monday night as a precaution after a teacher at the school attended by the children of Canterbury prop Aidan Tolman tested positive for COVID-19, the preparation for both teams was disrupted.
Tedesco said he had cooked a pre-match steak for dinner on Saturday night so after the game was delayed he had visited the butcher again on Sunday with the same order for that night's meal.
"I cooked it myself and it turned out alright. I might have to do the same thing next week," he said of Saturday night's top-of-the-table clash with unbeaten Parramatta.
Roosters winger Brett Morris said Tedesco's form in recent seasons was "no fluke".
The 27-year-old had always been regarded as a huge talent but since joining the Roosters from Wests Tigers he has become more professional in looking after his body and preparing for matches.
"Teddy is playing some wonderful footy at the moment, there is no doubt about that and it is a credit to the guy, the way he looks after himself," Morris said.
"He does everything right off the field and then when it comes to the training paddock he is one of the first blokes out there and one of the last to leave. He is a dedicated footballer, he does all the work and the performances he is putting in are rewards for the work he does.
Morris, who has achieved everything in the game at club and representative level, said Tedesco was one of the best players he had played alongside.
"When there are big moments to be had he is always around them so if you are talking about big game players and consistent as well – guys you know you can rely on week in and week out – he ticks all of those boxes and more," Morris said.