Elgey's desperate search for fun factor
It's rare that the smile isn't there spread across his face but Titans five-eighth Kane Elgey admits that for most of 2017 his seemingly happy demeanour has been a ruse to hide the struggles within.
When he breezed into the NRL midway through the 2015 season on the back of being named the NYC Player of the Year the year prior, Elgey was a free spirit whose speed off the mark and natural footballing instincts yielded 10 try assists and six tries of his own in the space of just 16 games.
A pre-season ACL injury meant that he didn't add to his tally in 2016 but after completing his recovery and an arduous pre-season he expected to bounce back in a big way this season.
Only it hasn't quite panned out that way.
His combination with fellow young gun Ashley Taylor hasn't yet translated to wins on the weekend and a sternum injury that was compared to the impact of a car crash saw him sidelined for a month in the middle of the season.
With just one try assist to his name in 15 games this season Elgey hasn't been able to reach the heights of his rookie season and as the losses have mounted so has the pressure.
The 23-year-old has had to deal with constant speculation that the Titans would be better served by pairing Tyrone Roberts with Taylor in the halves and for much of the year looks to have been playing with the weight of the world on his shoulders.
Turns out that despite the smile, we weren't far wrong.
"I'm not going to lie to you, I haven't had fun," Elgey said ahead of Saturday's clash with St George Illawarra at UOW Jubilee Oval in Sydney.
"When I was playing good that was probably the major thing, I was going out there and just chucking it around and having fun, that touch-footy style that I used to like.
"This year has got me good and I've learnt and I am learning.
"I thought I was going to come back and be all good and we'd get the wins so I've just got to keep working hard and hopefully these last four games try and make a name for myself."
The longer the season goes the less likely it appears that Roberts will remain at the club in 2018 as coach Neil Henry puts his full faith in Elgey and Taylor forming a halves partnership that can raise the club into premiership contention.
Given their past two losses Gold Coast have looked more like cellar dwellers than genuine contenders but Elgey believes they have time to salvage something from the season.
The Titans face the Dragons, Eels, Bulldogs and Roosters to round out the regular season and the Tugun Seahawks junior wants to see a brand of football that the fans will enjoy and that they can carry into next year.
"Now we can't make the finals the last four games we can chuck the ball around," he said.
"If we beat the Dragons this week I think we can wreck their finals chances which I think would be a good thing to try and match it with them.
"Training's been good. I've got my little left side together and we've been chatting so we're excited.
"We've just got to go out there now and do the job. We can talk as much as we want but we've got to put it on the field."