How Good Is: David Mead

You don't need us to tell you how good David Mead can be. Just whack 'David Mead try of the year 2011' into YouTube for what Fox Sports commentator Matt Russell describes as "the best pick-up I have ever seen".
 
Rumour has it Cirque du Soleil saw his reflex effort against the Sharks from three years ago, where he stuck his right mit out behind his body and beyond the sideline and reeled in a cross field kick without breaking stride, and went you know what, that's too freakish even for us. 

No, there's no question of how good David Mead can be. But one of the few bright spots in another dour Titans campaign has been the subtle signs that the 27-year-old is starting to realise the answer to that question. 

It was there in an emphatic first few months of the 2014 season, when the owner of what have long been renowned as a pair of the fastest heels in the game put them to work more often than he has in his previous six years in the top flight. 

As the Titans shot to an unlikely share of pole position on the NRL ladder after Round 8, the PNG-born flyer was rewarded for his outstanding early run with a maiden Country Origin jumper, covering for the injured Josh Dugan.

He subsequently played the house down with two tries, the same number of try-saving tackles and player's player honours in the 26-all draw, throwing the unlikeliest of hats into the ring for a vacant NSW winger's spot.
 
After a stellar opening two months, the Gold Coast's pot went from overflowing to stagnant as injuries and a predictable offensive game plan took their toll, with Mead by no means immune. Across his first eight games of the year, in which the Titans claimed seven victories, he was pumping out 142 metres a game and 23 tackle breaks. 

Those numbers dropped to 101 metres a game and 13 busts across the next eight outings as the Titans tumbled down the ladder. A persistent hamstring complaint has limited Mead to just one appearance in six weeks as another high-hopes Titans season ends up down the gurgler, but with the promise shown earlier in the year, and the chance to fight for his favoured fullback jumper under new coach Henry, Mead could well be set to prove just how damn good he is come 2015.

The Trademark Play: Try-saving tackles. For all his pace and finishing ability, Mead's handy knack at stopping tries has proved just as impressive as his capacity to score them in 2014. His seven try saves ranks him seventh in the league for what is fast becoming another crucial feature on a fullback's résumé. The Broncos must've been sick of the sight of him after their Round 6 clash with the Titans, in which he held up not one, not two but three of them over the line in the Gold Coast's 12-8 triumph. Ditto Souths' Dylan Walker, who he managed to foil a certain four-pointer for with a desperate late hit in the City-Country game, and then repeated the effort again in the Titans' Round 17 upset of the Rabbitohs.

Key Moment: Again cast your mind back to that Round 6 upset against big brother Brisbane. With the Titans unable to crack the Broncos' line for over an hour and down by eight, Mead swooped onto a Ben Hunt grubber destined for the waiting hands of opposite number Ben Barba. No more than 12 seconds later, Mead has run about 15 metres across field, then 95 down it for a spectacular try that drags the Gold Coast back into the game and on their way to a hard-fought win that continued their unlikely reign at the top of the NRL table.