Off-contract Titans hooker Mitch Rein says he is not concerned about talk of Cameron or Brandon Smith being targeted by his club, nor about his own current lack of a deal for next year.
Rein was full of praise for coach Justin Holbrook's approach to football, saying the squad – with a couple of big new additions – was full of energy after a strong finish to 2020 with plenty of optimism for the new year.
"Those young boys and new big bodies have brought heaps of enthusiasm," Rein told NRL.com.
"They're all young and keen to work hard and it's showing in our training sessions. When we do our opposed it's super close, it's always a tough battle in our opposed sessions.
"It's been ultra-competitive when we're doing our opposed which is really good."
Holbrook in his second year as an NRL coach had brought an impressive football philosophy to the club, Rein added.
"He's been so good around the group. Everyone really loves his approach to training," he said.
The Titans' 2020 season in review
"His philosophy on the game. He's got some awesome support in the assistants as well, JD (Jim Dymock) and Jim Lenihan. They've got a good combo, it's a really positive vibe there and everyone's enjoying how we train, everyone wants to work hard and rip in.
"It's been really good and really positive, I honestly can't say one bad things about training and the approach that's happened so far."
The enthusiasm brought by the likes of recruits David Fifita and Tino Fa'asuamaleaui had only increased the confidence around the Titans, which was obvious among the team's playmakers who had an excellent finish to 2020.
"They're all just awesome players," Rein said.
"Ash (Taylor) is a natural footy player. He's really worked on his combination with Jamal (Fogarty) at the back end of the year and he's really taken control and been a chief playmaker, which allows Ash to play his natural game which he's so good at, then AJ (Brimson) at the back is so fast and skilful.
"There was a pretty good combination going at the back end. We've had the chance to work on that the past few weeks, especially with AJ coming back which has been good. Still a fair bit of work to do but it's been enjoyable."
Brimson – whose pre-season has been hampered by a foot injury that threatened his involvement in round one – has been "flying" according to Rein.
"He hasn't been doing proper full contact, he's been in and out but everything he's been doing he's been looking unreal. That gives us all a bit of confidence," he said.
With Nathan Peats not offered a new deal this year Rein is the likely No.9 to start the season (though Erin Clark and Tanah Boyd are among the other options), with the spot seemingly his to lose for now in what is an important contract year.
"Hopefully, but I just want to put my best foot forward," he said.
"Last year at the start of the year was disappointing, we weren't playing well, I wasn't playing well and it took me a while to get back in the team.
Everybody’s heading to Magic Round
"Then as soon as I got back in I got injured then I was out for a fair while and couldn't get back in. It gave us a bit of confidence at the end of the year.
"It shows there's a lot of guys who can fill in and it's making our squad a lot stronger now that we've got guys who can cover not just my position but every spot there's a lot of depth there now. Everyone's pushing each other which is good.
"I'm off contract at the end of the year so I want to put my best foot forward. I've been training pretty hard and feeling pretty good. Just wait and see. I'm just a bit over pre-season, I want to play games now so I can't wait for that to kick off."
He is hopeful of earning a new deal on the Gold Coast but isn't losing sleep about it yet.
"Hopefully, that would be good but there's no point worrying about it," he said.
"I've got to knuckle down and concentrate on playing well. Hopefully that will be the result.
"If not there might be something else, we'll wait and see but first things first – play good then hopefully something will come up here."
Rein similarly wasn't worrying about what the club might do in its potential pursuit of Storm and Kiwi rake Brandon Smith, or a mooted move for the still-unsigned Cameron Smith if he chooses to play one final season.
"It's completely out of my control to be honest, there's no point getting hung up on that stuff," he said.
"It would suck to be out of a job but there's no point really worrying about it, I'll just concentrate on what I'm doing. I'm enjoying what's going on now."
Titans in 2021
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