Mark Ioane holding nothing back for NRL dream
Thursday 8 November 2012 3:20 PM
After signing a one-year contract with the iSelect Gold Coast Titans, young prop Mark Ioane is hoping to prove himself to secure an NRL debut.
“Getting my NRL debut will be the best thing that’s ever happened to me, that’s my aim for this year,” said Ioane who arrived on the Gold Coast this week. “This year will be my proving point to see where I’m at and see if I can do this.”
The 22 year old has been on the Raiders roster for the past two years and while he didn’t play first grade, he won the player of the year award at Canberra’s feeder club, The Mounties, in the NSW Cup.
“At first I thought it would be easy (to debut) but coming up I’ve learned a lot about just knowing what to expect for this pre-season. The main thing is I just have to train harder. My aim is to just get a lot fitter, a lot stronger and be more active on the field, do the best I can and prove myself.”
Coach John Cartwright had another reason for his new recruit not making the first grade cut at Canberra. There were a number of big name and big frame players in front of him.
“He was just stuck in a bit of queue in Canberra, they tend to go for a different style of front rower down there, tall and ‘rangey’ fellows, and he doesn’t fit that mould,” Cartwright said.
Ioane is no stranger to success. In 2010, he was part of the Warriors Toyota Cup premiership team and represented the New Zealand Junior Kiwis in the same year.
“It was probably the best feeling I have ever had playing rugby league. Just being a youngster growing up watching grand final day and your favourite players and wondering If I could get there. So winning the championship was awesome,” said Ioane.
Awesome too is the difference Ioane sees between playing at junior level versus playing NRL first grade. One of the bigger players while playing in the Toyota Cup, Ioane has worked hard on his fitness without sacrificing his size.
“Just getting used to the fitness side of it and adapting to the physical side, being around men instead of boys so just trying to adapt to that has been interesting" he said. "I’m still getting bigger just a lot trimmer and fitter, that’s what I’m aiming for.”
Senior Titans players have taken Ioane under their wing since pre-season training began to improve his performance and get himself match ready.
Ioane said, “Luke Bailey and Nate Myles have been helping me out a lot since I’ve been here. They’ve just given me pointers on how to get feedback away from the coaches and how to improve my game.”