By Jamal Fogarty
We want Finals, it's as simple that. It doesn't matter whether you're in the NRL, a junior player or even in the development teams - you should be aiming to play Finals footy. For us, we know we have to start the new season a bit stronger than we did last year. We're keen to get some big wins from our first set of games and really show the rest of the competition what we're all about. You naturally narrow your focus as the season goes on but for us the goal is definitely Finals and eventually winning the comp. We honestly can't wait.
It's about time the club had a bit of stability and positivity around the place. Seeing all the fresh faces come in through the front door has been great. But in terms of whose had the biggest impact since their arrival, you'd have to say the coach Justin Holbrook. We've always had outstanding players, but he's just taken us to another level in all honesty.
David Fifita and Tino Fa'asuamaleaui were big buys for the club, but unless you have a good coach in place then it's pointless, right? You have to have a coach that can manage everyone properly because then the players will start buying into his beliefs - and that's exactly what has happened here. You might have a mad player that doesn't exactly buy into it all and that can often cause instability. But for us, that hasn't been the case at all. Everyone, both new and old, has been awesome and has shown complete and utter faith in the coach.
The way he talks is a big thing. He's chill, he's calm and you can just tell he believes in us as a team. Not only does he understand each player individually, but he also shows an interest in what we're doing outside of footy as well. For some players, if you spray them in front of everyone then they'll just go into their shell. But Justin is just so gentle and players genuinely like that.
We want to be understood at the end of the day, and while his coaching ability is undeniable, it's his communication and love for the players that I reckon will bring the best out of us come game time. We all want to play for him, you know, so that says a lot.
In terms of the playing squad, expectations are obviously going to be on the new boys David Fifita and Tino Fa'asuamaleaui. They're so young and they've proven in the past just how good they are. But I think someone like Corey Thompson is going to have a big impact on the team this season too. He's obviously a veteran of the game, he's been around for a while now, but some of the stuff he's been doing in training has been so impressive. Especially with the new rules which will speed the game up, someone like him whose got rapid feet could benefit from it massively when it comes to breaking tackles. Whether it's in the middle or on the edge, he's just been training the house down and I'm excited to see him play. He's definitely one to look out for.
On a personal note, being named as co-captain was a massive honour. I came through the ranks after the Gold Coast Titans signed me as a 17-year-old from back home and they've looked after me every day since. From sending me to footy school on the coast to helping me through my ACL injury at 19, they've just been there all the way through both the good times and the c**p times.
It's awesome that the club are making its juniors future captains. That in itself encourages players to stick around here for the long run. It's just a really proud moment for me and my family and I'm looking forward to leading the boys out against a tough Warriors side on Saturday.
But all that being said, my role in the team doesn't change - we're all in the same boat here at the Titans. The best thing about this team compared to previous seasons is that there's no pecking order or egos. If you're a first day rookie then you have just as much of a say as everyone else at the club. And that ultimately comes from the staff, they've put that in place and us as players have bought into it. Everyone is connected, we all respect each other and we're all open to criticism. Even if there's some constructive feedback at training, we're all happy to take it on the chin regardless of whose mouth it comes from.
It's awesome, honestly. Such great vibes around the place and I'm excited. It's going to be a big season for the Gold Coast Titans, everyone knows that, especially us players.