Ryan James on verge of rugby league record
Ryan James has a 40-year-old rugby league record in his sights with the Titans' big man needing just two more tries to become the greatest single season try-scoring front-rower in premiership history.
Boosted by last weekend's double against the Knights – his second double of the season after scoring two against the Rabbitohs in Round 13 – James has taken his tally for the season to 10, just two behind winger Anthony Don as Gold Coast's most prolific try-scorer in 2016.
With two games left in the regular season and a finals berth in the offing James is now one shy of the mark of 11 set by former St George prop Jack Holland in 1950 and which was equalled by former South Sydney front-rower Harry Eden in 1975.
The mere mention of a try-scoring record is enough to have James's membership of the front rowers' union brought into question as he has taken his career tally from nine after 69 games to 19 ahead of his 91st start on Saturday.
Before our interview began Titans coach Neil Henry joked that James could talk about anything "other than scoring tries" but the 25-year-old couldn't help having a crack at Titans teammates more known for the exploits in scoring four-pointers.
"I don't really think much about them but I usually give it to 'Meady' (Titans all-time leading try-scorer David Mead) when I get more than him," James told NRL.com.
A five-eighth and back-rower as a junior who through sheer size scored plenty of tries as a youngster, James didn't make the move into the front row until he came into the NRL as an 18-year-old in 2010.
His first assignment was against a Sea Eagles forward pack that contained the likes of Jason King, Josh Perry and Brent Kite who would go on to be premiers 12 months later and scoring tries was the least of his worries.
"They had Jason King and Brent Kite so they were a big forward pack and I remember in the very first scrum I got into a bit of push and shove and I remember 'Birdy' [Greg Bird] running in to back me up," said James.
"I debuted there because 'Carty' (Titans coach John Cartwright) gave me an opportunity at a young age and I was happy to grab it with both hands.
"Last year I played a fair bit of second row and built up my match fitness and it's been good to grab that and be able to transfer that to the middle."
Titans forwards account for 40 per cent of the total tries scored by Gold Coast this season and James said his knack for finding the stripe was no different to the wingers out wide; it's all about seizing the opportunity.
"Birdy gave it to me today, he said it was off his quick play-the-balls was the only reason I get them," James said.
"It's just teamwork really. If I can sneak over… They're only metre runs. They've done the hard work and if I see an opportunity, just take it. If there's a small bloke in the line; fullbacks are plugging the line sometimes now.
"'Peatsy' (Nathan Peats) has given me a couple where he's looked up and seen a smaller bloke and shovelled it to me and it hasn't even been a play.
"It's just being an opportunist and hopping on those sort of ones if you think you can beat someone."
The only try James has scored in six previous encounters with the Panthers was in Round 7, 2014 but it was Penrith who came out on top in the Monday night clash 14-12.