Gold Coast captain elect Nate Myles has tipped Greg Bird to win back the trust of the playing group and make better personal decisions after the Kangaroos back-rower made his return to pre-season training on Thursday.
Stripped of the co-captaincy he shared with Myles due to an incident in Byron Bay in December, Bird (pictured) returned from his extended lay-off in impressive shape as the Titans ripped into a physical session with the Surfers Paradise skyline as their backdrop.
Although no formal decision has been made on the captaincy structure at the Titans for the 2015 season, Myles indicated his willingness to continue in the role he has held for the past two years and for Bird to make a major contribution to the team's success.
"[The captaincy] is something I enjoy doing and have enjoyed doing in the past few seasons so in that sense I would love to keep doing my job but in regards to 'Birdy', I'd like to knock this on the head early," Myles said.
"Birdy's decisions now are totally up to him and that's the way he's come back to training, ready to go. He's enjoyed his holidays that he deserved after a long year and now he's here to play footy and I'm sure he's going to do that the way that he does.
"He's a good man, Gregory, and I think he was a bit disappointed with how things came out but he went away and had some much-needed time with his wife after their wedding – which I might add was beautiful – but he's come back today and looks good.
"I was a bit worried with him going on a cruise for a couple of days but he's come back good and ready to go. Everyone expected that of Greg and that's how he's come back."
Gold Coast coach Neil Henry intimated on Tuesday that Myles was the most likely captaincy candidate but the veteran of 10 years in the NRL said it is now beholden on all players to take ownership of the team.
More than 800 games of NRL experience walked out the Gold Coast doors when Mark Minichiello, Luke Bailey and Ashley Harrison all departed at the end of the 2014 season and Myles said that he had noticed the emergence of leadership qualities in younger members of the squad.
"Probably a few of our younger guys that have played a bit of football now, what our squad needs is for those blokes to stand up," said Myles, who is in a race against time to be fit to play for the NRL All Stars after undergoing a second minor operation on his left shoulder.
"Guys that probably don't think they are leaders or senior members of the group now are senior members of the group. We lost some fantastic footballers and some really experienced players last season so our guys that don't think they are in that position, now find themselves in that position and they need to stand up and a lot of them have been doing this pre-season thus far.
"Will Zillman, Luke Douglas, fellas like that who as soon as they have touched foot on the field they've been fantastic... Aidan Sezer is another one. They're guys that probably didn't think they were senior members and people look up to them and now they are in that position and doing a good job."
After a gruelling pre-Christmas regime of running, running and more running, Titans players seemed eager to mix it up in opposed sessions on Thursday, just three weeks out from the Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines.
Kevin Gordon was left reeling – and the plastic base of an agility pole snapped – by a flying tackle from Ryan James but Myles said it may be a few more weeks before he can participate in full contact sessions.
"A couple of the sessions prior to Christmas were pretty physical, I think now we're leading into trial time I think a few of the boys are definitely starting to fight for some positions now," he said. "The physicality of training is definitely picking up and even when it's not meant to be it doesn't take long for it to overflow.
"I'd love to be a part of [the All Stars] for sure but that's all telling on how the body holds up. I didn't plan on the second operation on the left shoulder but now it is there and I've just got to deal with it and hopefully be all right because it's a fantastic concept that I really enjoyed playing in before.
"Just contact at the moment. Strength wise [the shoulder] is slowly building but just that initial contact. As you can see some of our boys don't like to slow down when they're running; I'll stay out of their way."