Hurrell admits he mentally 'shut down'
New Titans signing Konrad Hurrell has opened up about the mental toll his inability to secure a regular position in the Warriors' NRL team took and how the move to the Gold Coast has reinvigorated his desire to fulfil his enormous potential.
Hurrell will travel to Perth with the Titans on Friday as 18th man but is unlikely to play against the Rabbitohs as he works through a couple of niggling injuries that he carried in his final weeks in New Zealand.
Having only arrived on the Gold Coast on Monday, the 10-day trip that also encompasses a game against the Eels in Darwin in Round 14 is seen as ideal timing by Titans coaching staff to familiarise Hurrell with the playing squad and the style of play favoured by coach Neil Henry.
As rumours circulated over the past months that Hurrell was being shopped to the Titans the blockbusting centre reiterated his desire to stay in New Zealand and fight his way back into the Warriors team, but conceded that he reached a point where he didn't feel he would ever be given another chance in his preferred position in the centres.
"At the start of pre-season I was happy and training hard and I knew where I needed to get to because that was the coaching staff were telling me," Hurrell told NRL.com.
"I trained to get there so I was quite happy and I got to play All Stars and that was massive and one of the highlights of my career, to play amongst those legends.
"After that I didn't play a couple of games and I was still all right and then I finally got the chance and got to play in the middle and I was happy just to be playing. But moving on from there I knew it would take me a while to get into centre so mentally I was pretty shut down.
"In my head the only thing I knew I could do was to train hard. I can't choose myself to play centre unless I train hard and play good in NSW Cup and hopefully will get the chance.
"Obviously I didn't get it while I was at the Warriors and I was disappointed but in my head I knew I just needed to train and hope that it would come one day and it still didn't."
The ever-smiling jokester who boasts more than 100,000 followers on Instagram has been grinning from ear to ear since landing on the Gold Coast to play for a coach who has vowed to bring out his best and among familiar faces in Nathaniel Peteru, Agnatius Paasi and Leivaha Pulu who have been his dinner companions throughout his first week.
The 24-year-old has promised to win the trust of his new teammates through his conduct both on and off the field and said simply being happy will go a long way towards playing the best football of his career at the Titans.
"Now that I've got this opportunity it's turned around from being disappointed and just training to being happy and training hard as well," Hurrell said.
"Coming to the club where the coach says he wants me here and he will bring the best out in me, that makes me a lot happier.
"If anyone is not happy they will never play to their potential. For me, when I'm relaxed and happy, that's when I play good.
"When I'm happy I play good so hopefully I will get the opportunity soon."
Henry can barely contain his excitement at having a proven match-winner land in his lap halfway through the season and is seen by Tongan coach Kristian Woolf as the key to unlocking Hurrell's potential.
Woolf has worked with Hurrell in the Tongan camp since his Test debut in 2013 and predicts he will be as popular with his teammates as he will with the Titans fan base.
"The key for me is that I think Neil Henry will do a really good job with him and help him with his football. A change of environment is sometimes what a player needs to reach their potential," Woolf said.
"I know Neil Henry as a coach and I think he'll be very good for Konrad. I think he'll get a hell of a lot out of him and hopefully we see him right up back where he was two years ago when he was a real force in the NRL.
"He's a big character off the field and that was a surprising thing for me, the first time I got the opportunity to work with him. How good a sense of humour he's got, how well-liked he is within a group and he's a hard bloke not to like that's for sure.
"He's obviously got a big profile in New Zealand, I think that will follow him over here and he'll be a great character both on and off the field for the Titans."