Lure of a premiership keeps James at Titans
He was forced to confront the mortality of Gold Coast as a club only a couple of years ago but local junior Ryan James can now see a premiership in the Titans' future and believes it could come sooner rather than later.
James is on course to become the first 10-year player in the Titans' short history after he signed a three-year extension on Tuesday that will keep him at the club until at least the end of the 2020 season, a deal he negotiated himself after parting ways with his previous management.
Given the interest expressed by NRL clubs in Sydney and most notably arch rival Brisbane, the Titans' ability to keep James on the Gold Coast represents another important step towards the club's maiden premiership.
The 25-year-old has seen the club take up residence at the Centre of Excellence at Robina only to move out a couple of years later and spend the past two seasons as the NRL's gypsies who trained at any number of Gold Coast facilities.
But a drought-breaking finals appearance in 2016 and new home at Parkwood Village that boasts facilities to rival any in the NRL has convinced James to stay and play a major role in the good times he is confident are just around the corner.
"I'd do anything to stay at this club," James said.
"The club's really looked after me for the last seven years and they've looked after me for the next four years.
"For me to move to Sydney would have been a massive choice for the family and to take my one-year-old away from his grandparents would have been a hard thing for them.
"The Gold Coast is where my heart is and I want to see this club succeed and take it to a premiership.
"To see this club at the lowest of all lows looking like it was going to get revoked to looking around now and seeing where we are in the middle of Parkwood with the best facilities in the NRL, where else would you want to be than on the Gold Coast with great facilities and a great team and great staff?
"I've been here for a fair while now and I've seen the club in a lot of the downtime and last year was one of our better years. To be secure for the next four years is a great achievement for me and my family."
Titans CEO Graham Annesley spoke of the "vote of confidence" James's signature in the face of "pretty fierce competition" means for the future of the club, while coach Neil Henry paid credit to the New South Wales Origin hopeful remaining loyal to the club and the region.
"A player of his quality – a 25-year-old front-rower – there was a fair bit of interest from other clubs but to Ryan's credit he didn't really field those offers as such. He wanted to strike a deal here and we got it done.
"He's approaching 100 NRL games for the club and is one of our senior players. Had a fantastic year last year playing every game and scoring 12 tries so he's a big part of our future.
"It's a good story for the club and proof that we're on the right track and he's seen fit to stay here."
While obviously bullish about the prospects of success on the field over the next four years, James also spoke of the influence his family had on his decision, in particular wife Ana, young son Carter and his parents.
"Gold Coast was top priority and being a local junior and being part of the club for so long and being through those hard times it just made the decision a lot easier for me and the family to stay on the Gold Coast," said James, who has played 93 games for the club to date.
"The family definitely did have a big say in what happened. They're happy with the choice that I've made. They love footy, they watch footy 24/7 and show up to the Titans 20s games and have ever since me and my brother played from a young age.
"The club's on the up. Being part of the Gold Coast region and a local junior it's great just to be part of this and the experience."