James excited by Titans 'reboot'
There are so many new faces at the Titans that Ryan James almost feels like the odd man out but the rugged forward said a revamped playing roster and enhanced coaching staff has put every player on notice after week one of pre-season training.
After Josh Hoffman and Luke Douglas rejoined the squad on Thursday after overseas holidays Knights recruit Tyrone Roberts made his first appearance at a Titans session on Friday having driven up from Newcastle on Thursday.
While players such as William Zillman, Nathan Friend and Zeb Taia continue on modified programs as they recover from surgeries and niggling injuries, the majority of the squad were put through a gruelling session of hill sprints at North Burleigh on Friday.
For Greg Bird it represents his earliest start to a pre-season since 2010 while young players such as Shane Wright, Jeff Lynch and Brian Kelly took their chance to impress coach Neil Henry and new high performance staff Matt Ford and Sean Edwards.
The Titans' 10th NRL season is designed to be one that reinvigorates the club and James said the established members of the Gold Coast squad know there are no longer any guarantees regarding their place in the team.
"We've got a lot of different players this year and having basically a whole new squad and a whole new training staff is like a reboot of the system," James told NRL.com.
"Me and 'Zilly' and 'Meady' (David Mead) were sitting and having coffee the other day and we felt like it was a whole new team and a new start.
"Everyone's here to prove a point and hopefully we can do that in this off-season, get fit and healthy and really push our way into the season.
"It was hard on day one to try and remember everyone's names and that's taken me two or three days. It's good because there are probably about 15 new faces so just getting around and getting to know the boys and trying to make those connections.
"Obviously the players that were here are already good mates and we need to branch out and make sure we're all one and all the boys seem to be getting along quite well at the moment."
James spent the vast majority of last season in the back row for the Titans before a return to the front row in the last game of the season against North Queensland.
The arrival of David Shillington from Canberra and Zeb Taia from Catalans puts further pressure on the incumbents and James said those who work the hardest throughout the summer will get their rewards in Round 1.
"It certainly does [give training an extra edge] because your spot's not safe," James said.
"They've bought a lot more second-rowers and a lot more front-rowers and they're probably still in the market for a couple so we just have to train our hardest and try and lead from the front and do what we've done since we've been here.
"We've got Ryan Simpkins coming back from injury and Zeb Taia who are just those players who can fit in anywhere and are great players.
"There is going to be a lot of competition for spots this year which is going to be good for the team."