An extended layoff and the couch has always been a pretty potent combination for professional surfers.

Throw in a remote control, Wi-Fi and a less than stellar competitive year for a mature aged pro and things could pretty easily go from bad to worse.

But it’s fair to say Taj Burrow’s always been a glass half full kind of guy. So faced with a little time on the couch after getting hammered down at The Right late last year, Taj took the liberty to do the one thing that has eluded him for the past 18 years.

“It was just so so good to put my feet up for more than two weeks and it was just good fortune that I got to do it at home,” Taj told Tracks.

“I started out on the tour in ’98 and in that time, I’ve only missed two events. I love it so much but it’s a pretty hectic kinda lifestyle. We finish one year and it’s really only a couple months break and it’s on again so it’s pretty draining. So to get to spend time at home was just incredible…I loved it.”

But the early stages of the injury and the resulting surgery weren’t all beer ands skittles for the eternally surf stoked West Australian.

“It took three months exactly and that in itself was a bit of an emotional roller coaster,” he says.

“I was hoping to get it all done in two and a half months, but when I got to that point I didn’t have the range of motion I was hoping for which was hard to deal with because I really wanted to be ready for this event, but as soon as it hit three months…to the day, it was immediately better and I sort of forgot about it and got on with it.”

Taj, like the rest of the WSL warriors-and a fair chunk of Australia’s surfing populace-descended on the Gold Coast earlier in the week in preparation for the opening event for the year, the Quiksilver Pro.

His arrival, hot on the heels of a slow surfari up the coast from Sydney, coincided with the arrival Cyclone Maria and the sight of the Gold Coast’s famed points in all their perfect yet crowded glory.

“It’s been a fun filled week, but the crowds have just been out…of…control and really quite dangerous,” says Taj, echoing the sentiments of just about everyone fortunate, or unfortunate enough to be on the Goldy at the moment.

“I’ve been surfing up around Burleigh and Currumbin so it’s been nice having that little bit of space. The points (Snapper to Kirra) have been insane but it’s the busiest stretch of coast you could imagine. Even when you’re not on a wave, you almost always get run over just paddling out.”

But here’s where Taj, like his WSL brethren have a little ace up their sleeves. As of today, like Noah parting the Red Sea, the WSL will sound the hooter, the crowds will part and the boys and girls will have free reign over the line-up.

“It’s pretty exciting. You out your contest vest on, they clear the line up and you’ve got it all to yourself for half an hour or so,’’ says Taj.

And with a fresh batch of 14 spanking Mayhems to play with, three wins and a fistful of solid placings at the event, you’d have to put Taj at short odds to start the year with a bang.

“This event has always been good to me and that obviously helps with my confidence for sure,’’ he says.

“Funnily enough though, I know my competitors know this is my strongest event so hopefully they’re all scared to surf against me. ”