Falloon honoured to share Smith's stage
It was the scene of the cruel end to the Titans' 2013 season but Gold Coast hooker Beau Falloon says it will be honour to once again oppose Storm captain Cameron Smith at AAMI Park on Sunday.
Whether Smith even takes the field will be the cause of much concern among Storm fans and Holden NRL Fantasy coaches with his withdrawal just moments before last week's game against the Bulldogs with back spasms having widespread repercussions.
Melbourne seemed to be unable to cope with the loss of their skipper in copping a 40-12 hiding from the Bulldogs, coach Craig Bellamy's post-match spray regarding their "rubbish" display making Gold Coast's task even more difficult this week.
For a player such as Falloon though, the greater the challenge the more he relishes the contest. As feisty on the field as his pet Bulldog Axe is at home, Falloon brings an energy and intensity to the middle of the ruck that he hopes inspires his teammates.
It's a role more familiar with the man he was stuck behind at South Sydney at the start of his career, Issac Luke, than his heralded opposite on Sunday and the 26-year-old admits he is trying to incorporate elements of Smith's play into his own game.
"He's someone I've really looked up to. The way he plays the game, everyone's got full respect for him," Falloon told NRL.com.
"He's not cocky or arrogant so I've really looked up to him, the way he controls a game and controls a football team from dummy half.
"He's a great player and the things he's achieved in the game speak for themself, it's sort of an honour playing against him.
"I like to bring an aggressive style of play. I like to rev up in defence and try and put some shots on and stuff like that to get the boys pumped up a bit but I'm also trying to take on a bit more leadership this year and guide the boys around a bit better, which I think I'm getting better at.
"With young halves in Aidan [Sezer] and Alby (Albert Kelly) we're all sort of learning."
Falloon and Kelly this week signed contract extensions at the Titans keeping them at the club until at least the end of the 2015 season but truth be told, Beau Falloon would prefer you weren't even reading this story at all.
His three-sentence entry on Wikipedia must be the briefest of any player now in their seventh year in the NRL and other than saying he was born in Sydney stretches no further than his 54 career games at the Rabbitohs and now Titans.
There's no mention of the fact that in 2011 he was the NSW Cup Player of the Year, certainly no hint that he's the youngest in a family of four (two sisters, one brother) and doesn't divulge that three years ago he lost his father, a traumatic event that took him time to come to grips with.
"He was a massive influence on me," he says. "Losing him was pretty hard for me at first, it took me a while to get over it but I had to be there for my mum to get her through that. That was a bit tough but we got through it."
Falloon credits his mother Karen as having the greatest influence on his life and regularly flies her up from Sydney for Gold Coast home games and she also attends any games the Titans play in Sydney.
A year after his father's passing the Coogee Wombats junior was working hard to earn the respect of his new teammates following a move to the Gold Coast but a biceps injury that prevented him from making his debut for the club until Round 19 made the transition that much more difficult.
Such has been the injury curse that has befallen the No.9 jumper at the Titans since Falloon's arrival, he and Matt Srama have barely played a game together and coach John Cartwright was forced to manufacture an extra dummy-half in Paul Carter.
With Srama still sidelined on his return from shoulder surgery, Falloon spent the pre-season indentured as the Titans' No.1 hooker until a hamstring strain the week before the opening trial again threatened to take away his shot at a permanent starting spot in the NRL.
"I'd had a really good pre-season, I was really fit and just before that first trial against the Warriors I twinged that hammy," he explained. "Then I tried to rush it a bit too fast and tried to get ready for the second trial and twinged it again over there in New Zealand.
"It was probably my fault, pushing it a bit too hard but I'm glad I got it right for Round 1.
"Since we've been up here me and Srama have been in and out. I'd get injured and then he'd get injured and we've struggled to play many games together and whoever's playing hooker seems to get an injury.
"Hopefully that's all behind us now and we can all get back on deck, me and Srama and [Sam] Irwin and Carter's doing a good job in there too."
He shuns the spotlight, hates the headlines and much prefers to do his talking on the field but one thing Falloon is happy to discuss is the fact that he has a whole lot more to say than his 'roomie' for away games, Matthew White.
"He loves his bed; has a feed and then straight back to his bed," revealed Falloon."Whatever we do it's just straight back into his room and into bed.
"He's a bit boring actually; we give it to him about that, he doesn't like it."