No more excuses.
That’s the attitude Ryan James will instil in the Gold Coast Titans playing group as the worst season in the club’s history finally draws to a close on Saturday.
Consigned to the sidelines since round six with an ACL injury, James is hopeful that the team can finish the year with a win against the Dragons at home but it will do little to paper over the yawning cracks exposed over the course of the year.
Injuries, a star half confined to reserve grade for the second half of the year, the mid-season departure of coach Garth Brennan and the worst losing streak in Titans history means that for long-suffering fans 2020 can’t come quick enough.
The roster assembled by Brennan led many experts to suggest they were genuine top-eight contenders yet the season spiralled out of control in spectacular fashion, James helpless to contribute on the field.
In an exclusive interview with NRL.com, James discussed his frustrations, his belief that Ash Taylor will bounce back from his difficult 2019 and why the club is positioned to be a success in future.
"It's been tough on the field and there have been times where it's been tough off the field,” James conceded.
"The direction the club's going, it seems to be turning around. I've been doing a bit of work in the top office and that seems to have completely changed.
Every try from Round 24
"You don't want to be losing on the field but it's one of those times where the Titans are performing off the field. Now it just takes the players to take the responsibility on their shoulders and win some games.
"The staff upstairs can't help that but they can help everything run smooth.
"It's up to us now to have a red-hot crack.”
Although no Titans team has won as few a games as the 2019 squad, James has ridden the highs and lows the club has experienced since inception in 2007.
He admits that there were times he genuinely feared the club would be shut down but that under the ownership of the Kelly and Frizelle families there is the stability needed to ward off any suggestion of the licence being taken elsewhere.
"There was a time a couple of years back when players genuinely didn't know whether the club was going to be around,” James said.
"Then the NRL took over.
Phillip Sami runs down Josh Addo-Carr
"We ran on a very small budget but we did well that year because everyone ripped in, even though we didn't know how secure we were.
"Obviously with the takeover by the Frizelles and Kellys, there's certainty knowing that we're going to be a club.”
The difficulties experienced by Ash Taylor in 2019 is something of a microcosm of the Titans’ season.
He began the year with great expectation yet after an injury-interrupted start to the year and issues mounting off the field, ultimately the pressure on the 24-year-old became too much.
He was granted time away from the game following the round 12 loss to the Cowboys and has been seen in the NRL just once since, a humiliating 58-6 loss to the Roosters at the SCG.
Taylor will play for Tweed Heads in their Intrust Super Cup elimination final on Saturday, James confident he will return to pre-season under new coach Justin Holbrook ready to resume his NRL career.
"It seemed to all come down on him at once and I'm pretty proud of him for what he's done the past eight or 10 weeks to put his hand up and say that he needed help,” said James.
"He's going better. He's working on himself and I'm glad that everyone has taken a step back and not peppered him as much because people don't know the everyday pressures of a rugby league player.
"The club has been supportive and the players have been supportive and I think this time off and being able to get the love back of footy, he should be able to come back next year with a fresh mind and firing.
"Some of the issues carried on from the previous year, I'm not going to go into them too much. Then obviously getting injured and having some time off, you're not in and around them every day and then it gets to breaking point.
"I think he's doing a great job and I'm just happy to see him back at training, smiling and happy.”
Match Highlights: Knights v Titans
As captain, James has tried to be of support to all Titans players during such a difficult period but admits it has been challenging to offer constructive feedback when he has been unable to line up alongside them on the weekend.
"It's real tough. I usually have my opinion in video sessions but it's hard to say it when you're not actually out there doing it with your actions on the field,” James admitted.
“It's hard to criticise someone when you can't be out there to help them.
"You've just got to find a way to help them the best way you can for every individual need.
“Knowing every individual and what gets them up is what I try to attempt to do and work around that.”