Zillman content living in Preston's shadow

SOMEHOW, Titans flyer William Zillman managed to play 22 out of a possible 26 games last year – even though he was never slated to be in the starting line-up. &nbsp;<br><br>No, he didn’t morph into a back-up hooker. And you can rule out all the spots in the engine room too. Also, the bloke doesn’t care for playing wing, either. <br><br>Zillman is your typical fullback: good hands, reliable in the air and on the ground, and when he gets into space, boy can he can really motor! <br><br>But with some tiny bloke named Preston Campbell in the headlights, Zillman was likely to have more Queensland Cup games tallied against his name than appearances at Skilled Park in 2009. <br><br>Yet the former Raider played in the Titans’ first 21 games of the year, starting on the bench and then moving to fullback when Campbell was shifted to pivot. He helped Gold Coast to a third-place finish, and despite a look-in at the semi-final stage of the competition, he was overlooked from Round 24 to the qualifying semi-final. <br><br>“That’s where it really hits home,” Titans coach John Cartwright tells Big League about having to cut a player of Zillman’s quality from the team. <br><br>“It’s disappointing when they can’t start. It’s always hard to tell anyone they’re not in first grade. I’d expect him to be disappointed, too. Everyone wants to play first grade and he’s as good as anyone going around. <br><br>“It’s just being patient and doing what’s best for the team. We’re fortunate to have a fellow of his calibre waiting to come in. He’s one of the fastest, strongest and fittest at the club and he’s got a great attitude too, but it’s unfortunate he’s in a position where we’re really strong. <br><br>“But you know as the season rolls on, that at some stage you’re going to get an opportunity, and I know we’ve got a guy there that’s going to take full advantage of it.” <br><br>Similar to how the Titans were happy to have made their first finals appearance in their short history, the 23-year-old Brisbane junior was content just to be on the field after knee injuries interrupted his 2007-08 campaigns. <br><br>“It was definitely good to get a chance to play a whole year of football,” Zillman says. <br><br>“The injuries were in the back of my mind at the start and it was good just to be able to put them out. This year I don’t even think about them anymore!” <br><br>But just as Zillman was about to establish his career as a fullback with the Titans, Gold Coast signed troubled five-eighth Greg Bird in the summer, shifting priority player Campbell back into the no.1 jersey. Unfortunately that meant that the man they call ‘TP’ (Total Package) had again been punted down the pecking order. Consequently, in Round 1 of the new season, Zillman was named to play for the Ipswich Jets in the Queensland Cup. <br><br>“Absolutely it was disappointing,” he says of the omission. “But that’s the way it goes and you just take it as it comes. At the time it was the best thing for the team, and ‘Carty’ picked the best team for Souths. I just had to cop it and play well in the Q-Cup and hopefully get a spot the next week.”<br><br>But just like last year, Zillman has managed to find himself back in the NRL. <br><br>He replaced Campbell when the former Panther was ruled out with concussion in Round 2, before being named on the bench for their Round 3 clash with the Raiders. It was all smooth sailing at that point for the undefeated Titans, before they were finally overcome by the Cowboys, where Zillman was once again custodian due to a thumb injury to captain Scott Prince. <br><br>It seems the football gods are smiling on Zillman. <br><br>“I’ve only had the one game off the bench so far and the three other games I’ve played 80 minutes so it’s not too bad at the moment,” he says. <br><br>“Coming off the bench can be hard, especially for a back because you’re not too sure when you’re going to go on. He’ll never say to me, ‘I’m going to put you on at this time’, because as a back sitting on the bench, you never know what’s going to happen. <br><br>“A lot of the other utilities usually slot into the forwards, and it’s easier to figure things out that way. You can say, ‘He’ll be good for 25 minutes and then he’ll need a rest’, you know? &nbsp;<br><br>“Obviously, when I signed I knew Preston Campbell was at the club and I knew straightaway that I was going to be behind him. But I was still fortunate enough to play so much first grade last year and run on for nearly every game. Hopefully I can do that again this year.” <br><br>With Prince out for another month, Zillman now has the opportunity to again prove his worth as a first grader. You get the feeling that he deserves a full-time gig and might be looking at an opportunity elsewhere, but he says he’s happy being a real “super sub” for the Titans, where his entire support structure lies. <br><br>“It’s not the ideal situation, being in because of injury,” he admits. “No footballer wants to be in that predicament – they want to be picked because they deserve to be there. But if I keep playing good, consistent football and I’m doing what Carty wants, then hopefully there’s a spot for me when he (Prince) comes back. <br><br>“I’m very happy at the Titans and I’ve still got a few more years on my contract. They’ve treated me great, they’ve been good to me, so leaving is out of the question. <br><br>“One of the big things for me was that I had all my family up here, and being around them and all my friends that I grew up with makes my move a lot easier. I’ve got a lot of family in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and up north in Proserpine. <br><br>“The decision to leave the Raiders was honestly one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do because I loved the club so much. It was very hard to do, but getting to be with my friends and family was the way I went.”