When versatile Titans rookie Beau Fermor had a career-changing meeting with Mal Meninga early this year he knew he wanted to sign with the Gold Coast club long-term.
The 21-year-old Queensland under 20s representative, formerly at Newcastle, had an eye-catching NRL debut last week in the 40-10 loss to the Sharks, after which his coach Justin Holbrook hailed his "fantastic" display in the back row.
Fermor, who was raised in the Queensland country town of Dalby, was signed until the end of 2020 with the Knights when his manager called to say he had interest from the Titans. Newcastle, knowing that he wanted to return to Queensland and having a suite of back-rowers on their books, allowed him to investigate further and he flew to the Gold Coast with his father to have a lunch meeting with CEO Steve Mitchell, coach Justin Holbrook and Meninga.
"Mal is a pretty big figure in rugby league and I didn't know he was going to be there, so when he walked in the room I thought 'wow, there's Mal Meninga'," Fermor told NRL.com ahead of Friday night's home clash with the Warriors where he has been named in the centres.
Match Highlights: Titans v Sharks
"Mal said to me that they had been watching me for a while, really like the way I play and saw a big future for me at the club. They were offering me a three-year deal, so that backed that up.
"When I walked out of that room I thought that if Mal Meninga is telling me that he wants me to be here, then I want to be here too.
"The Knights were really good about it all. I was transparent with them and they were transparent with me on what they were thinking about it all."
Like former Maroons hardman Tonie Carroll, who also played centre with success in his career, Fermor can run a superb line and defend tough on an edge as well.
His NRL debut against the Sharks in the back row showcased his athleticism, speed and ability to charge into gaps where he made two line breaks and ran for 121 metres.
He grew up a keen student of the aces of modern-day line running.
"Boyd Cordner is one I have watched and studied for a while and when Sonny Bill Williams was playing I'd watch him as well," he said.
"Edge running is a strength of mine and I have got to keep working on it."
Fermor's resilience to play 75 minutes on debut was a credit to his fitness. It was his first game in 11 months after undergoing a knee reconstruction.
"I tore my ACL in mid-August last year and when I came to the Titans I was about six months through my rehab, so I had about three months to go," he said.
"The club has been very good to me in getting me back on the field. When you come back from an ACL one of the things you do a lot of is running. My fitness has always been a strength of mine and now it is all about keeping my match fitness up after not playing much footy in the last 12 months."
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Fermor's Dalby-based parents were on hand at Cbus Super Stadium last week along with his fiancé, brother, sister, auntie and uncle for what was a memorable occasion.
"I am stoked to be able to get my first game out of the way. I was pretty happy with the way I went," Fermor said.
"Obviously there are a few things I'd like to fix up but it has been a dream of mine to play first grade since I can remember, a dream come true.
"I had eight members of my family and friends come down to watch so that made it even more exciting. They came down the day before the game and I had dinner with them the day before the game."
As a Dalby Devils junior, Fermor is set to follow in the footsteps of other local heroes who have progressed to the big time.
"Carl Webb and Andrew McCullough, who is at the Knights now, have both come through the ranks at Dalby," he said.
"They have both gone on to play Origin and Carl went on to play Test football. It is nice to have people from your town who have gone on and done that because it makes you feel like you can do it as well.
"I always followed their careers closely and wanted that to be myself one day, so it is just good to be another Dalby boy playing first grade."