A nod from Tallis proves Arrow belongs on the big stage
Jai Arrow goes into the post-Origin period of the Telstra Premiership knowing the expectations others have of him may have changed but the ones he imposes on himself haven't.
The trajectory Arrow's career has taken in the past nine months has been phenomenal.
He went from being a bench player at the Broncos who had started in just three NRL games and played 20 off the interchange bench, to being a first-choice player at the Titans. This year he was picked to play for the Maroons and finished the series as starting prop.
To be earmarked by Gorden Tallis - a man as tough with his praise as he was with his play on the field - as a future Maroons skipper with just three Origin matches and 38 NRL appearances to his name, is some compliment.
The 22-year-old's career goal is simple – to be the player others want to play with, the guy who will never let the team down. The takes care of itself.
Aarow is determined not to let the mantle placed upon him of being the most highly-rated forward in the Titans pack be a distraction or provide any extra pressure to his self-analysis.
"I don't feel any extra expectations; I don't give myself high expectations; I just want to go out and play to the best of my ability," he said.
"At the start of the year I never ever thought of playing Origin. I got the opportunity to play in all three games and the experience was unbelievable. Hopefully, I can bring the traits I learned back to the Titans.
"There's no feeling like running out for an Origin game and feeling that massive roar, especially at Suncorp – that was something special. It's something I definitely want more of."
Aarow could hardly walk after Origin III but begged Titans coach Garth Brennan to give him until match day last Sunday to prove his fitness to take on the Roosters. Scans showed tears in his posterior cruciate ligament and he lost the race. He has vowed he will play against the Knights this Saturday.
"I expect it will be 100 percent by this weekend and I want to play. I don't want to let my teammates down; I pride myself on not letting anyone down," he said.
Arrow reluctantly admits missing the loss to the Roosters may have been a blessing.
"Mentally and physically it helped having the game off. It refreshed my mind and body and it has got me ready or the last weeks of the competition."
It was typical Tallis when he described why he loved the Arrow way.
"He doesn't take a backward step; he doesn't know how to say no," Tallis says in admiration.
"To be 90-something kilos, playing in the front row for Queensland … to put his body on the line the way he does … a leader is someone people follow and people would follow Jai Arrow for sure, because I would."
Unsurprisingly, Arrow's favourite player when he was growing up was Tallis.
"I just loved the way he played. He was aggressive; he was the one all the coaches said he was a State of Origin player," he said.