Gold Coast lock Jai Arrow, who believes the Titans will be mentally tougher in 2020, has revealed he will be driven by the fear of letting his teammates down in his final year at the club.
Arrow admitted last year’s disappointing four-win season rocked the playing group and at times they turned on each other, resorting to blame-game discussions behind the try line as they faced yet another gruelling defeat.
Titans coach Justin Holbrook highlighted the need to get his team to fall back in love with rugby league when he arrived at the club, knowing it would be crucial for his team to rediscover their passion and enjoyment in the game if they were to remain united as a team.
Now the power of positivity is helping the Titans to rebuild trust in each other and, while it takes time to develop, the Queensland Origin forward insisted the Titans’ ability to fight back from 16-0 down against Brisbane in last week’s trial win was evidence they were working in the right direction.
“In the past, to be honest, we’d sort of play the blame game a little bit but we kept positive,” Arrow told NRL.com.
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“We all got behind each other and we were all positive about the situation and that’s rugby league. If you stay positive and make sure you stick to your job and everyone knows their roles then eventually everything starts clicking which it did.
“I thought in the past we’d probably panic and go AWOL from there, but we didn’t panic and stuck to our plan.
“It’s bloody hard to score a try in rugby league, especially in a professional sport like the NRL, and it’s definitely hard to score one try and we scored four quick ones.
“We’ve got that trust going now and combinations working and that’s really exciting going into round one.”
As the unofficial leader of the pack, South Sydney-bound Arrow is the man the Titans turn to week after week to show them the way.
He’s been their most consistent player for the past two seasons and, while his stats are the envy of many forwards in the NRL, he is driven by something that hurts much deeper than numbers on a page.
“I feel like there is no bigger fear for a rugby league player than what your teammates think about you,” he said.
“I’m always out there with that mindset of making sure I always turn up for my mate and that I’m someone that they look beside and can trust and want to play with. That’s my mindset going into every game I play.
“I know my role and I know my job, I just want to do that to the best of my ability. I’m not worried about stats and stuff like that, I go into every game always telling myself to put my body on the line and make sure I’m always turning up for my mate.”
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Arrow’s mindset and the mental strength of the new Titans will be immediately challenged in 2020 with perhaps the most difficult opening six weeks of any club in the NRL.
They meet 2019 grand finalists the Raiders in Canberra next Friday before facing Parramatta (home), Brisbane (home), Sydney Roosters (away), Melbourne (away) and Manly (away) to open the year against six finalists in six weeks.
Arrow sees it as a six-week challenge that could change everyone’s opinion of the Titans.
“If we can string a few wins together against the top teams from last year maybe people will be thinking maybe these guys have changed their ways and they want to be playing finals footy at the end of the year and hopefully we can get the fans behind us as well to get bigger crowds to our home ground,” he said.
“If we can do that and string wins together I’m sure the Gold Coast will get behind us and that will only make us better.”