The combination of a four-game biting ban and contract speculation produced a sour end to 2020 for Kevin Proctor but he's heading into the new season with the past in the rear-view mirror.
While still confused abut his suspension and adamant he did not bite his former Kiwi teammate, Sharks star Shaun Johnson, the Gold Coast veteran has put the incident behind him leading into their season-opening clash with the Warriors on Saturday in Gosford.
Johnson supported him at the NRL judiciary after the round 14 game in which the second-rower was sent off, but Proctor was found guilty.
"It was weird. I didn't know what happened. I suppose we've got to put it to bed now and it is what it is. We've all dealt with it and we came out the other side. It's all good now," he said.
"It was tough, but I knew deep down what happened. Everyone else is open to their own opinions. I know what happened and as long as my teammates believed me and knew what happened as well and still had that respect for me, that's all that mattered."
Round 1 hype - Warriors v Titans
At the hearing, the veteran forward argued that he couldn't breathe as Johnson's grip tightened around his face in a tackle and claimed he opened his mouth for air which created the illusion of a bite.
Johnson complained of a bite in the heat of the moment but after having time to process the incident he said he had made a mistake.
Proctor, who will share the Gold Coast captaincy with halfback Jamal Fogarty, is grateful for his club's support.
Warriors v Titans - Round 1
The 32-year-old was off contract at the end of 2020 and his future appeared uncertain but he ended up re-signing on a one-year deal.
"We're a pretty tight bunch. It's pretty humbling to know all the boys have got my back," Proctor said.
"It's nice to know that your teammates are going into battle for you. Hopefully, we can start playing some good footy as well."
The Titans haven't played finals since 2016, but they're being tipped to return after recruiting marquee forwards David Fifita and Tino Fa'asuamaleaui and winning five straight games to end 2020.
"I think the expectation's good. It means we're some sort of threat to someone. I suppose it makes us step up as well," Proctor said.
"We can either step up or we can crumble under the pressure. But I think all the boys can take a lot of confidence out of last year.
"Add the new players that we've got in the side and them buying into the system, it's only going to make us better. It's important that we start well but it's a long season as well."
What will be the result in this Telstra Premiership clash?
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