Idris's date with the old Bird
For most weeks on the NRL calendar, Penrith centre Jamal
Idris cruises into work oblivious as to whether he has to pack his bag for a
road trip or sleep in for a home game on the weekend.
But this week is not like most. This is the week two old flames catch up for the first time and decide who's moved on to better things.
"This is the only game where I knew who we were playing against. Most of the time I get midway through the week and I have to ask who we are playing. This is the only one I had marked up," Idris told a media scrum on Monday, with a clash against the Titans looming in seven days’ time.
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And, judging from the Gold Coast's lofty position at the top of the competition, the ex-girlfriend has done quite well for herself. The surprising Titans visit the foot of the mountains on Easter Monday boasting five wins in their opening six games and - just for old mate Jamal – they might arrive with a smug look on their face.
"I'm not surprised at all," he said.
"You look at their team down the list and from 1-13 they are outstanding. Especially their forward pack. It’s finally connecting and they are where they should be at the moment."
Both parties have undergone subtle changes in appearance since their rapid - and amicable - break-up in January.
For the 23-year-old Idris, he is seemingly over the nasty ankle injury that ended his time at the Titans in June last season. He looks fitter, happier – and after topping 100 metres in every single game since his club debut in Round 2 - a lot sharper.
"I guess for me, the main change is now I'm playing on the left. I'm trying to switch up which hand I carry the ball in and little things like that," he said.
"Coming out of yardage, trying to get involved a lot more. When I came back, I was nine months out of the game. I was real unsure where my fitness levels would be. But it's like riding a bike. I just got straight back into it."
But Idris admits he's kept an eye on both the old bird and, well, the old Bird.
He says the Titans' new look this year began under new assistant coach Neil Henry, who implemented significant structures to their attack just before he left to return to Sydney and be closer to his mother.
"The thing about it is Neil Henry came in and threw a massive curve ball in the whole team. So he did change a lot," he said.
"The way they have been playing isn’t the way they used to play. They are a completely different team at the moment ... just little things, especially in the forwards. We used to do early shifts and try and make metres on the edges. Now they just charge through the middle and actually utilising their forward pack."
A forward pack that includes their most influential player in Greg Bird who should know what it feels like coming up against the monster Penrith boss Phil Gould loves to call "the biggest human on earth".
"I was just hoping I'm on Birdy's side, to be honest with you. That's my boy. But there's nothing better than giving him a couple of hits or two," Idris said.
"I remember in 2011 actually, we was mucking around, this was just a week out before the game. He goes, 'Jam, I'm going to pull every dread out of your head'.
"I started laughing and sure enough, in the middle of the game, he actually did. I looked up and said, 'Ref, he's pulling my hair!' And he goes, 'Stop being a sook!'
"I just clicked. Second half we came out and I just thought to myself, 'I'm going to flog him no matter what'. They threw a ball - I didn't know if it was going to him or not - but I hit him with everything I got.
"He got it but he hit the deck and I just felt the wind go out of him. I picked the ball up, ran 30 metres or so and got tackled.
"After the game, he sends me a message and it goes, 'Man, I'm coughing up blood'. So I was like, 'Mate, if you wanna go pulling dreads, I go hitting ribs'."