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Titans skipper Ryan James.

Titans captain Ryan James has credited two attempts by Wigan to sign him as a teenager for instilling the belief he could "do anything" and make it in the NRL.

Wigan's legendary developer of young talent Brian Foley, whose systems produced a cavalcade of Warriors greats, was working as the club's youth development manager when he identified James's talents in 2006.

James was touring England with an all-conquering under 15s junior side from the Northern Rivers when he trained at Wigan's facilities and played a game in front of Foley.

"I met Brian Foley when I was there and he asked if I was keen to play at Wigan," James told

"I'd grown up being coached by my dad through juniors and when someone like Brian asks you to play overseas it makes you realise you must be doing something half right.

"It gave me the belief that I could do anything. I was just 15 and you never think at that age that you can really play footy as a job, even though it is something you want to do.

"I was away from family and didn't know what to think of it at the time. I thought 'is this real? Can I really pursue something in England?'"

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James soon found out how serious the offer was when Foley was in Australia the following year with a touring England side and approached him again.

"I spoke to Ryan and I said 'if you are not going to be signed here I'll give you an opportunity in England'," Foley told

"He wasn't signed with the Titans then. I liked his athletic ability, his inner mental strength and I thought he was a tough competitor. He was a player who I thought you could develop."

James remembers the approach in 2007 well because his brother Tim had earlier been signed by the Gold Coast franchise and his own contract with the Melbourne Storm was coming to a close.

"I was playing in a trial on the Gold Coast and Brian said he was still keen to get me over there to Wigan. He even went and saw my mum because I wasn't wrapped up," James recalled.

"My brother was signed before the Titans were even [called] the Titans.

"When I was a kid, before there was the Titans, it was either going to be the Roosters or the Storm. I ended up choosing the Storm.

"It wasn't long after [Foley's visit] that Carty [John Cartwright] and Satts [Scott Sattler] came to our house and signed me up with the Titans."

James was blissfully unaware that behind the scenes Foley had approached the Titans and said if they didn't sign him, Wigan would.

Foley has since retired and is living in Australia to support his nephew Herbie Farnworth who is a talented outside back signed to the Brisbane Broncos.

"I am just really proud of the way Ryan has since developed as a player and a person," Foley said.

As for James, he's never forgotten the approach by the Wigan guru.

"I've kept in touch with Brian ever since those days and it is always good to catch up because it is something you always think about," he said.

Now the Gold Coast captain, James has rebuffed options to join other clubs for the last decade.

He met Ricky Stuart when he visited the Roosters as a youth, and there was interest from Canberra before he signed his last deal through until the end of 2020. The Broncos were also right in the frame.

"To be honest the Titans were always front-runners because I owe them everything. I owe them more than they owe me," James said.

"They didn't have to give me a contract. They signed me for three years when I was younger and then I did my ACL at the start of the season but they never once looked at getting rid of me. They've always been happy to keep me right from the start."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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