Titans brace for Origin-like Myles
Ryan James has seen it all before.
Critics would come calling for the head of Nate Myles as he struggled to make an impact in the early rounds of the Telstra Premiership before the mere sniff of an Origin series put an extra spring in his step.
Myles himself will tell you that even at its springiest the spring doesn't have quite the same velocity as it once did and the leg speed has plateaued to the point where it could almost be referred to as leg 'slow' but there's something about the months of May that make Nate great again.
To be fair, Myles's form for a Manly team that has shown it can mix with the big boys this year has been better than in recent years when Maroon loyalty continued to earn him Queensland caps, a tally that now sits at 31.
Although there may be a gentle push for a generational changing of the guard the general consensus is that Myles is a man playing well with a proven track record and who will be part of Kevin Walters' team for Game One on May 31.
In the two games leading up to Origin selection last year Myles ran for a total of 84 metres against the Broncos (44m) and Sharks (40m) but earned Queensland selection again and prior to Game Two registered just 34m against Penrith and again performed Origin heroics.
This year the 31-year-old is averaging 86m in 36 minutes per game which spells bad news for a Titans team that decided their captain of the time didn't warrant a deal longer than two years and allowed him to head to Sydney's northern beaches, a move that may have also contributed to the infamous Daly Cherry-Evans backflip of 2015.
"He's a solid player and this time of year seems to be his time of year," James said.
"He seems to turn it on and play some great footy around this time so it's going to be good competition.
"Nate wasn't playing flash-up footy for us at the Titans at one stage but he'd go out there and be Queensland's best player; I was surprised he didn't get player of the series one time.
"He's made for Origin. He's played 31-odd games so you've got to respect what he's done and I'd expect him to be there again this year."
The decision to allow Myles to be cast adrift seemed particularly cold given the way he had conducted himself and held the playing group together as the club lurched from one crisis to the next.
As the drug scandal broke, Greg Bird was stripped of the co-captaincy and Paul Carter was sacked for repeated drink-driving offences Myles remained resolute as he also dealt with the serious illness to his wife Tessa.
When the club was at its most vulnerable he remained one of the few pillars but Titans coach Neil Henry said that in the end it became purely a case of economics.
"It was tough," Henry conceded. "Nate had been a part of the club for a number of years and it ended up coming down to a two-year offer and a three-year offer and Manly came in and we couldn't match that offer.
"That was difficult but that's just how it is. You try and manage your roster around who you want to bring in and what you're trying to achieve.
"Nate was certainly a strong part of our leadership group and captain and a great servant for the club but times change, he's moved on.
"Players move on but he had a good impact while he was here.
"With Origin coming up I think he has played himself into some form. He's playing more minutes, he's been very god off the bench for Manly and getting his runs up and certainly always been a very good defensive player.
"Puts his body on the line so I expect him to turn out and have a big performance."
The hard edge that Myles brings to any team is the one ingredient currently lacking in the Titans' forward pack at present and James expects to hear all about it over the course of the 80 minutes.
"He does," James said with a sly grin when asked whether Myles engages in any sledging.
"He's a great talker and he's got a bit of good banter as well.
"It was hard, he was one of our leaders but there was a lot of player turnover in those couple of years.
"He got a great deal down at Manly and you can't be mad at him for what he did.
"It was through that time that Tessa was a bit sick as well so if we was looking after the family, you can't be mad at him for that."