Nate Myles is subjected to some brutal Blues defence in the punishing opener to the 2014 State of Origin Series. Credit: Col Whelan. Copyright: NRL Photos
They take pride in backing up for their respective NRL teams but Maroons enforcer Nate Myles believes the physical toll being placed on the game's elite is verging on the ridiculous.
Struck down by illness in the wake of Origin I that would have prevented him from playing even if the Titans had not had the bye, Myles spent his weekend watching many of his Queensland team-mates show extraordinary levels of commitment to play a second game in the space of a few days.
The injury toll from one of the greatest Origin matches ever played was significant on both sides of the border and Myles has joined a growing chorus demanding greater consideration for the welfare of players.
"I did watch the guys go around on the weekend and I thought it was silly in some aspects to see some of them and how they were going but it's what we get dealt," Myles said on the eve of the Titans' crucial clash with Penrith on Saturday night. "You can't really do too much about it, you've just got to get on with it and that's what the boys are doing to their credit.
"There are guys there that have been doing it for a number of years and you can see now the toll that it is taking on them. The game last Wednesday was physical and fast and I think everyone could see that.
"There's no one that's going out of their realms to complain about it but I just think it's something that needs to be set up better for the players. It's the pinnacle of our sport but we just want to make sure the best players are there to play in it.
"The extent of some of the injuries were probably a little clearer the next day but I've been involved in some losing sheds in Origin and that was up there with them, if you can rank them.
"The boys were looking forward to getting back to club footy and playing well and some of them were doing that, it was great to see them play last week. You all saw 'Smithy' (Maroons and Storm captain Cameron Smith) and how he went about his business and it's just up to the players and how they deal with it."
In the midst of a three-game slump and facing a Panthers team looking for a fourth straight win, the Titans begin a run of three games at home that will have a significant influence on their finals prospects.
Currently sitting in 10th position courtesy of their negative points differential, the Titans play the Panthers, Storm and Dragons at Cbus Super Stadium over the next three weeks followed by their second bye but Myles says any pressure is coming from within a squad competing for spots in the 17 each week.
"Very important, not only because it's Origin but because we've got a couple of home games," Myles said of the next month of footy. "We haven't lived up to where we want to be as a team so the next couple of weeks are very important.
"I think the pressure is probably coming more from within our side. The players in our feeder teams are playing some great football, James Roberts out here today is putting a lot of pressure on our outside backs and the forwards that are going back, Mark Ioane and those guys are playing some great footy, so the pressure's probably coming more from within our ranks which I think is going to bring out our best."