Hala to prove he's no 'dud buy'
In many ways David Hala's first day as a Titan on Monday was indicative of his stop-start NRL career to date.
First, he impressed Gold Coast co-captain Nate Myles with his work in the weights room but when the team hit the running track later that afternoon Hala quickly found himself dropping behind the rest of the pack.
After making his NRL debut in 2009 for the Broncos at just 20 years of age, Hala has been restricted to just 37 games over the past six seasons due to injuries and large chunks of the season being spent playing with Redcliffe in the Intrust Super Cup.
Famous at the Broncos for setting the club's bench-press record of 195 kilograms 12 months ago, Hala knows that it is the kilometres he puts into his legs that will determine whether he becomes a valuable addition to the Titans' stocks.
"I've got a lot to prove. I've got to train really hard and get the respect of all the boys and trainers and have that belief that I can punch out the minutes and that I wasn't just a dud buy," Hala said ahead of yet another gruelling fitness session.
"I've just got to run, just got to keep running for as long as I can. I can afford not to do gym for four weeks or two months or something like that. It's just all about running and getting that conditioning side up and getting to where all the boys are, the conditioning standard for NRL.
"I'm going to bring a lot of impact and hopefully with an injury-free season I'll be able to get those 'kays' under my legs and punch out the minutes in a game.
"With Redcliffe, it's totally different from NRL standard, I was playing around 60-65 minutes for Redcliffe and not getting many minutes in the first grade side.
"It's totally up to the coach how he wants to play me but in Redcliffe I played plenty of minutes and I'm looking forward to getting those minutes out in the NRL."
Hala caught the eye in Round 16 when he scored two tries for the Broncos against the Sharks but that was just one of seven games in the NRL in 2014.
He spent the majority of the year punching out hit-ups and tackles for the Redcliffe Dolphins in the Intrust Super Cup and said it was a frank discussion with returning Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett that convinced him his future laid elsewhere.
"It all happened pretty quickly. I was a Bronco two weeks ago on a Monday and then on Tuesday morning I got a call from my manager saying there were a couple of offers on the table," said the 25-year-old.
"I just talked to Wayne and asked him where I sat on the pecking order. He was just really honest and we talked it out and we came to a mutual agreement that I was allowed to go and talk to other clubs and search elsewhere.
"I saw a lot of senior players retiring at the end of the year so I thought I might have a good chance to get a start at Gold Coast and just put Brisbane behind me.
"Brisbane had a lot of quality front-rowers – and I'm not saying Gold Coast don't – but it's a young side and now with those guys that have retired, hopefully an opportunity comes up."
Former Broncos teammate Josh Hoffman will join Hala at the Titans upon his completion of Four Nations duties with New Zealand but there is one other familiar face in the squad in Nate Myles.
Myles was a seasoned campaigner at the Roosters when Hala was enticed to Sydney in 2008 and is excited to see what the 114-kilogram monster can bring to the team.
"I have played against him and I was also at the Roosters when he was coming through before he went to Brisbane and he's definitely a big man," Myles said.
"His biceps are like quads at the moment so hopefully he brings that every day. The way he was training this morning in the weights room was pretty impressive.
"He's a very hard man to stop and he's going to be good for us. Hopefully he'll bring that punch and that energy. There are a lot of new faces here at the moment and they're all bringing plenty of energy which is great."