Titans unite through Army torture test
He'd avoided them for 15 years but deep down senior Titans forward Greg Bird knew what he was in for.
A three-day boot camp at Canungra west of the Gold Coast was designed to push youngsters and seasoned campaigners to their breaking points and engender a team ethos capable of carrying them through 26 rounds in the NRL.
Throughout the 2015 season Broncos players spoke of the mateship that was established in similar circumstances last January and with so many faces at the Titans for 2016 it is imperative that unbreakable bonds are forged and forged quickly.
With no representative commitments at the end of the NRL season Bird has been back training since day one of pre-season for the first time in a decade and welcomed the opportunity to test himself in ways that he had never done before.
"After 15 years to do something I'd never done before was refreshing really," Bird said. "Don't get me wrong, it was probably the hardest training I've ever done. That first day was the hardest training I've ever done.
"It sounds a bit corny to say that we couldn't have got through it without teamwork but at the end of the day that was pretty much what it was like.
"It instilled a lot of things in us – a lot of things that I won't discuss for obvious team reasons – but we couldn't have done it without each other."
With six high-profile recruits, others on second tier contracts, players trialling for a permanent spot and the elevation of a handful of under-20s players familiar faces are few and far between at the Titans at present.
Even for Bird, who will be playing his seventh season for the club next year, there were players on the camp with whom he had barely spoken.
"It was a baptism of fire and you got to know each other pretty quick because you were relying on each other," Bird explained.
"We were down and out, going on a couple of hours sleep for the whole weekend.
"There were players getting frustrated, there were people wanting to throw the towel in but if they did that the team wouldn't have been able to get through it.
"When you push people so far you get to see people's true character and that side of it is where the team's going to benefit.
"You see people at their lowest and you can see what people are going to do for you when you really need them."
New head strength and conditioning coach Matt Ford said while the players were worked extremely hard physically, it is the mental battles they were forced to win that will prove to be the greatest benefit for the remainder of pre-season training.
With less than a month before NRL squads break for Christmas the physical preparation that will go on over the next three weeks is critical to a successful season and Ford believes the Titans are well placed to begin the new year in good shape.
"It's more about the end result of camaraderie and character building, finding out more about your teammates," Ford said of the primary benefits to come from such a camp.
"The way the Army staff are trained to do that is physical duress and challenging you mentally and then hopefully you see those qualities come out in your teammates.
"Where it comes out in training is being able to consistently train under duress, mentally being able to push yourself beyond the limits you previously might have had. Then obviously hoping that the players are adopting an attitude where they are supporting each other and are honest with each other and provide feedback where needed.
"We've had a good start to the pre-season and it's a really good, core group here.
"They're hard trainers with a great work ethic, some good leaders amongst them but hopefully this is just a bit of a catalyst to get us to the next level with all of that, being able to drive each other when it does get tough, as it will for the rest of the pre-season."