Ryan James has gone from a super-sub to an 80-minute workhorse for the Gold Coast Titans in 2015 and his effort was on display again in his side’s 26-16 loss to derby rivals the Brisbane Broncos last night.
James topped the run count for both sides making 18 for 171 metres and he matched that with 25 tackles in defence, but the second-rower said he still has some work to do to complete the transition from the front-row to the left edge.
“I’m used to coming on and trying to run hard and tackle hard, so to get through 80 minutes is difficult for me because I like to go out there at a thousand miles an hour,” he said. “So I have to pull myself back and do what’s best for the team.
“It is a lot different to going out there for 40 minutes and just bashing up the middle and working your butt off to make the tackles. It is about conserving my energy on the edge and running hard when I can.
“Being on the edge, now I have to hold my width and work for the team. I have to really time out my runs and cover my tackles. I can work on my match fitness by playing matches. The more 80 minutes games I play the fitter I’ll get.”
James also said he is still getting used to the change in the defensive workload out on the edges and credits his rookie halfback Kane Elgey for helping covering him.
“I got caught out a couple of times in defence tonight, so I will have to work on that. Kane saved me a couple of times out there on the edge when I got caught up through being tired, which is a bit different for a halfback to save a second-rower.”
James who had an injury-plagued 2014 season which left him just four NRL appearances because of shoulder complaints but he has managed to play all but 10 minutes (due to a round-one sin-binning), of action this season and coach Neil Henry said he has been impressed by the his performances.
“I think his past two weeks have been the best games he’s played for the club. I think he is building, he is a handful out there when he is coming onto the ball,” Henry said.
After his solid start to the season and some comments made by Blues coach Laurie Daley earlier in the year, the spotlight is again shining on James as a possible contender for a NSW Origin jersey and his Titans skipper Nate Myles believes he’d be up to the job if he did get the call.
“I think he is building for sure. He is a big solid fella and can play a few different positions. I only wish the best for him but he will be on the other side,” Myles joked.
“He’s a good player and these last two weeks he’s stepped it up and hopefully he keeps improving because he has that ability.”
But for James, who went into a weekend camp with the emerging Blues squad earlier in the year, is just worried about putting in strong team performances for the Titans.
“I’m just trying to win games for the Titans. I’m just really working on my game at the moment and when we are starting to win at the Titans, that’s when I’ll be happy but until then we all have to work well,” he said.