White registers ton of courage
You could tell Matthew White wasn't quite himself as soon as he stepped onto the field in Round 1.
Coming off the bench as he has done in all 11 appearances thus far in 2014, the no-frills front-rower passed the ball five times and made three tackle-breaks, representing a year of nervous energy being released having undergone a knee reconstruction 12 months earlier.
What, those numbers don't strike you as someone determined to prove to himself and to others that he still had something to offer in the NRL?
Then consider this: In the 10 games since that Round 1 return of five passes and three tackle breaks, White has passed the ball a total of six times and broken two tackles. It's not what he is there to do but reaffirms that his first NRL game since Round 26, 2012 was the most nerve-racking of his 99 games for the Titans thus far.
"Probably that first game was the hardest, just getting back into the contact again," said White, who will rack up 100 games for the Gold Coast when he takes the field against the Dragons on Sunday, just the 11th Titans player to reach the milestone.
"You're a bit worried about getting hit in the legs and that but once you get those first few games out of the road it's been good.
"I was just hitting the ball up from the kick-off and I copped a couple of big knocks a few tackles before and the leg sort of gave way, heard a bit of a crack and found out it was the ACL.
"First off we didn't know how bad it was and when you go and get scans and stuff you're worse after that when you really find out what it was. At first it's really hard and you've got to try and get your head around it and you can't do anything about it.
Forced to stay on the couch watching "blokey movies" for the first two weeks of his recuperation, White applied himself to getting back onto the park in exactly the same manner in which he takes every hit-up; no fuss and with no need for pats on the back.
His form this season vindicates his belief that he has come back bigger and better and the other NRL clubs with whom the Titans had to beat to re-sign him for a further two years just two weeks ago obviously agreed.
"A hundred games has probably snuck up for him, probably surprised him a bit but he's getting better and better and I suppose it was evident with a couple of clubs chasing him this year," said front row partner Luke Bailey.
"While he's turned 30 he's still got a lot of good footy in him and a lot of clubs realised that and the club signed it up for two more years.
"Up until his 'reco' he was pretty durable and didn't miss many games and since he's come back he's been great for the club. You wouldn't have known he's had a reco, the way he's been playing but he's a pretty quiet fella, keeps to himself, loves a beer and a bet."
Raised in Inverell in north-west New South Wales, White came under the notice of talent scouts following his selection in the NSW Country under-18 team but having been lured to the Knights chalked up just 28 first grade games across four seasons.
It gave him the chance to play alongside Newcastle legends such as Andrew Johns, Danny Buderus and Kurt Gidley but the opportunity to be a regular first-grader on the Gold Coast saw him sign on for the 2009 season.
When his next contract runs out White will be 32 years of age and with eight years of service at the club and is thrilled that he was able to stay on the Gold Coast after a difficult past 12 months.
"There was a little bit of interest [from other clubs] but I really didn't want to leave up here. I've been here for six years and settled in really well so I'm glad I could stay," White said.
"I've been here for six years now so getting another couple of years here will be good. I get along great with all the blokes and the coaching staff so I'm happy to be here for a couple more years."