Srama ready to fight for future
The forgotten man of the Gold Coast Titans insists his body can withstand the rigours of the NRL and that he is ready to prove to coach Neil Henry that he has a future at the club.
Matt Srama has played just nine NRL games for the Titans over the past two seasons due to repeated injury dramas and a contract debacle that saw the Roosters announce he had signed a one-year deal in November 2014 before he backed out to stay on the Gold Coast.
With the return of foundation No.9 Nathan Friend to the club and Daniel Mortimer and Kierran Moseley vying for the utility spot on the bench, Srama has been largely left out of discussions of just who will figure in the Titans' 17 for Round 1.
Once considered the successor to Friend's first grade hooking position when he made his NRL debut in 2011, Srama now finds himself fourth on the pecking order but says he is ready to fight for his spot in the top grade.
"With every club there are pecking orders and it's really good that we've got some depth in the hooking department now," Srama told NRL.com.
"If anything it drives me even harder and it probably drives the other hookers as well, that we're all pushing for those positions.
"With the whole new squad at training it feels like a fresh new year for me.
"I've changed my diet and my preparation and everything has turned and hopefully I can put everything behind me and show the club especially what I am capable of and show them that I am capable of playing NRL."
On the back of the contract fiasco Srama was forced to have pre-season hip surgery last year that made his push for first grade inclusion even more difficult.
With Daniel Mortimer starting in the halves Srama played three of the first four games of the 2015 season but wasn't sighted in the NRL after Round 4, a shoulder reconstruction towards the back-end of the year bringing an unhappy season to a premature close.
Physically the 25-year-old resembles a triathlete with Rio Olympic glory on his mind and not a 26-week NRL season ahead of him, but Srama insists an altered diet and improved approach to preparation will enable him to put his best foot forward.
"It's the best I've ever felt due to coming into the pre-season relatively injury free," Srama said.
"I had the shoulder reco last season and all that's coming along well and I'm doing full contact now. Confidence is up now and I'm just really looking forward to playing in the trials.
"It's not just me, everyone goes through different injuries at different times and that's the life of a professional athlete in such a high contact sport.
"Sometimes it's just right place at right time and good luck with injuries. I've had a bit of bad luck in the past and all I've done now is to take a step forwards with regards to injury prevention and trying to stay on the paddock.
"I've been as strict as I've ever been in terms of diet and my preparation so I'm hoping it can show dividends on the footy field."
Srama, Friend, Mortimer and Moseley are all off contract at the end of the 2016 season and Srama knows that the only way to win back the trust of Neil Henry and the Titans coaching staff is to make the most of every opportunity he is given.
"Obviously it's on the back of everyone's minds, contracts and things like that, but I've had a few injuries in the past few years that have limited my first grade appearances," Srama said.
"I know what I'm capable of when I'm healthy so my main focus is to put my best foot forward this year not only as an athlete off the field but as a professional rugby league player on the field as well. Whatever comes on the back of that, so be it.
"I'm not too worried on trying to prove Neil wrong or anything like that, I'm just trying to focus on doing my bit for the team and earning the guys' respect.
"Hopefully with that comes the coaches can see some good footy and hopefully get an opportunity not only in the trials but at some stage throughout the year."