Titans rookie Paul Carter has vowed to make amends for a high-range drink driving conviction after making a stunning return to the top side in Gold Coast's shock 14-10 win over South Sydney on Monday night.
After being charged by Gold Coast police for being almost four times over the legal limit on June 12, Carter was subsequently suspended by the Titans for two matches and fined $12,000 ($6000 of which was suspended). On July 3 he was fined a further $1400 in Southport Magistrates Court and disqualified from driving for 12 months.
It was an uncharacteristic transgression from a young player who has been as impressive off the field as he has on it and after a week playing for Burleigh in the Intrust Super Cup returned to take out his disappointment on the Rabbitohs.
Carter was forced to watch on from the sidelines as his struggling team lost by four points to the Storm in Round 14 and then a solitary point to the Dragons in Round 15 in his absence but has vowed to give all to Gold Coast's push for a finals berth over the closing nine weeks of the season.
Named man of the match for his high-energy output of 149 metres, 31 tackles and three offloads from 57 minutes on the field against South Sydney, Carter insists that the past month has taught him a valuable lesson that will, in the long term, make him a better person.
"It was terrible. That will be in the back of my head for the rest of my life, just to realise those stupid things, I can't afford to be doing them," Carter told NRL.com. "I let a lot of people down and all the boys and coaching staff, the club and the fans, I've definitely learned from it and I think I'll be a better person for it.
"Everyone at the club, 'Carty' (Titans coach John Cartwright) in particular, Graham Annesley, Michael Searle, all of those fellas have been a great support to me in the last few weeks and I really appreciate the opportunity and faith they've shown in me and I really want to repay that to them on the field.
"It's done now, I'm really remorseful for my actions and realise how serious it was. I just want to deal with it as best I can and move on and be a better person from it."
Cartwright conceded that in the immediate aftermath of the incident Carter cut a forlorn figure around training but said he noticed his spirits picking up the closer he came to an NRL call-up.
"He's been busting to play over the last couple of weeks for the reasons we all know about and he let it all out against Souths on Monday night, he was fantastic," Cartwright said.
"He was [down] early in the piece. He was very remorseful about the incident and early on he was down but as he got closer to playing – he had a game for Burleigh last week and did a fantastic job for them – and he really wanted to repay the club and his teammates last night."
It's been a rapid rise for the son of former Panthers legend Steve Carter having been stuck behind an international-laden forward pack at the Bulldogs and he made the most of his opportunity from Round 1.
His aggression and exuberance can sometimes spill over with no player at the Titans conceding more penalties than Carter through 17 rounds, his total of 11 getting a hefty boost against the Rabbitohs where he was credited with five alone.
He is a player with 'future Origin representative' written all over him but he knows there is still much to learn about competing in the top grade.
"You don't realise until you come into first grade that every week is a very, very tough game and the whole 80 minutes is extremely tough," Carter told NRL.com ahead of Sunday's clash with the Raiders.
"You've got to be switched on for the whole 80 minutes no matter who you're playing; any team can beat any team on their day in the NRL. Everyone's got a great side.
"Week to week you get the massive highs and then massive lows so I guess it's just about managing it and trying to deal with those lows when they come and also not getting too excited and stay grounded when you've got those highs."
Astute punters or die-hard Titans fans could have got as much as $7.50 with Sportsbet.com.au on Gold Coast toppling the Rabbitohs by a 1-12 margin which makes Carter even more wary of the threat posed by the underdog Raiders.
"We've found a lot of confidence out of [Monday] night's game. They're a top four side at the moment so to go down there and beat them at home with most of their players in was a big confidence-builder for us and a step in the right direction for the rest of the season," said the 22-year-old.
"The Raiders are a good side and have got a lot of really good players in their squad so we've got to be on our best this week, prepare well and we have to play our best at home if we're going to beat them, for sure."