New diet fuelling the Titans' Mac Truck
The 'Semi Trailer' might be in for a service back at Parramatta but the Titans believe they have a Mac Truck of their own in the now leaner and meaner shape of winger Nene Macdonald.
In an age where a powerful winger has a far greater influence on a game than just putting the ball across the stripe, Macdonald has shown with a revamped diet that he can take a place alongside the likes of Semi Radradra, Corey Oates and Marika Koroibete as one of the Telstra Premiership's most damaging ball-runners.
Last Friday against the Dragons he not only soared over his opposite winger to score and also raced 90 metres to score an intercept try but his carries early in the sets gave Gold Coast the platform to dominate territory on their way to a 32-12 win.
He accumulated 236 metres from 15 carries against St George Illawarra, a far cry from the start of the season where he barely busted through the 100-metre mark and the 22-year-old attributes his enhanced input with changing the fuel he puts into his sizeable tank.
He has cut down on his portions and sends Snapchat photos of broccoli and asparagus to teammates such as David Mead and told NRL.com that he is feeling the positive effects on the field.
"I'm a pretty big eater so I've just been holding back a bit on the portions of what I eat and a bit more healthily," Macdonald said ahead of Saturday's clash with the Eels.
"It was something that I took upon myself. Being a bit heavier at the start of the year I'd feel it a bit during games and then I started to eat a bit more healthily and do the extra things that the coaches don't see.
"I feel like I'm cruising and I can do a lot more work for the boys.
"It's obviously helping everyone out if I take more runs and makes a big difference for our forwards up the middle."
Mead played alongside Macdonald for Papua New Guinea in the Pacific Test back in May and believes a leadership role with the Kumuls that week helped the former Rooster to take more responsibility for his performance.
Mead urged Macdonald to be more vocal whilst in camp with the Kumuls and has no doubt that at his best he can rival the very best wingers in the game.
"He's certainly got the potential, for him it's a confidence thing," Mead said.
"Whenever he is confident and playing aggressive he's got that level of impact that guys like Semi and Koroibete have.
"If he keeps working on his game – and he certainly is – then he can definitely reach that level.
"He's always been pretty good in his training and game preparation but he's been sending me heaps of Snapchats of his healthy foods and stuff like that.
"He must have fixed that up at home but he's certainly taking it as serious as he can."
Macdonald came to the attention of Titans coach Neil Henry with a breakout display for PNG in the 2014 Pacific Test on the Gold Coast and made a mid-season switch from the Roosters to join the Titans.
Admitting that he has been a work in progress ever since, Henry revealed that some honest words early in the season has helped to realise some of Macdonald's enormous potential.
"He'd be the first to admit that he has been a bit of a project. He was always tipped to be the next best thing and didn't quite take the next step but we've got to remember that he's still very young," said Henry.
"We laid down some ground rules with him and you either conform and you make an effort to change habits or you don't and you're not here.
"He has made a concerted effort to address a few areas of his preparation and it's paying dividends, he's playing his most consistent and powerful footy over the last month. It's no coincidence that's due to a bit more mindfulness around his preparation.
"He's trimmed down a little bit, he's looking quicker and stronger, he's worked hard in the gym and he's right on top of his diet and he's playing good footy.
"He's a threat in the air, a strong carry and he's doing his job, which is what he needs to continue to do.
"When he's nice and direct and straight up and down the field he's hard to handle. I think he's developing nicely and hopefully he keeps improving."