'Hit hard and hit early' urges McQueen
Rabbitohs recruit Chris McQueen has urged his new Titans teammates to make their presence felt from the very first tackle in order to get off to a winning start against the Knights at Cbus Super Stadium on Sunday.
One of seven players lining up for the first time as a Titan on Sunday, McQueen will be forced to take on a large degree of ownership for a right side that features former Knight Tyrone Roberts and Nathan Davis who will make his NRL debut at right centre.
There are debutants aplenty on the other side of the field also with the Knights to blood a club-record five rookies which is why McQueen says it is crucial that the Titans hit hard and hit early.
"The nerves settle pretty quickly. As soon as that ball's kicked off the nerves settle and you can get into your job but it's about not going in there to warm into the game," said McQueen, who played 116 games for the Rabbitohs before making a late move to the Titans in December.
"You have to be ready to go from that first kick-off and whether it's the first tackle or the first hit-up it has to be intense.
"You can't just warm into the game and settle in; you have to be ready to go right from the very start.
"They're going to be excited, as will our debutants. They're going to be jumping out of their skin and eager to rip in so we have to be ready to match it with them.
"Especially for the debutants and all the new guys to the club, to get that first-up win would give all the boys some confidence and give us something to build off."
In addition to a new club McQueen has spent the past two months becoming familiar with playing on the right side of the field after spending much of his career on South Sydney's left edge.
His new combinations with Roberts and Davis are mirrored on the other side of the field where rookie half Ashley Taylor, former Knights Zeb Taia and Josh Hoffman have been restricted in developing their combinations due to Hoffman's nagging knee injury.
Despite more than a third of the squad making their club debuts McQueen believes that encouraging performances at the Nines and against the Eels and Rabbitohs in trial games will hold them in good stead.
"It is a big task but we've been training well and we've trialled well," McQueen said of the new-look roster.
"We've got seven new guys to the club but only two debutants so the other five guys have got that big-game experience and been there and done it before. We're confident that we're gelling quite well.
"Wherever you train is probably where you feel most comfortable. I've been training on the right the whole time that I've been here and that's the best part of two months so I'm comfortable there.
"I feel like I fit in well with the structures on the right so I'm comfortable.
"[Roberts] is an exciting player and plays what he sees so that's probably good for me. All I'll have to do is push up and run off him and he'll do the hard work and hopefully make my job a bit easier."
There had been talk prior to Neil Henry naming his team for Round 1 that with the lack of depth in the centres McQueen could have been used to fill the void but the Queensland Origin back-rower is happy to remain in the forwards and pump out some big minutes.
"I played 80 minutes a lot when I was at Souths so I have that expectation on myself," said the 28-year-old.
"Obviously with those changes [to the number of interchanges] the bigger guys in the middle are going to get a bit more tired and there will be an opportunity for the halves and hookers to scoot out and take those metres.
"So there will be probably more changes for the middle guys so that is going to be an expectation going forward, that back-rowers become 80-minute players."