There is little doubt the 2015 season was Anthony Don’s best for the Titans – but the NRL late bloomer has a strong desire to keep improving and spend an entire season in the first grade side.
That was the goal after a strong pre-season for the 27-year-old from Grafton who did not make his debut until almost midway through the 2013 season.
He missed out on selection for the season opener against Wests Tigers but gained a spot the following round against the Panthers and was a consistent performer who sat second (with James Roberts) on the NRL’s try-scoring lists mid-year.
His try against the Tigers in round 13 after he beat five defenders in a 40-metre run showed he was one of the best at getting over the line in the competition.
Don became a fixture in the side for 16 straight rounds with his finishing ability, great skill under the high ball and good anticipation. But a couple of below par performances saw him dropped for round 18 and he unfortunately dislocated his shoulder the next weekend playing for Burleigh Bears and a season of great promise ended with his arm in a sling.
“My goal at the start of the season was just to become a consistent NRL player and hold down my position for the whole season,” Don reflected.
“Unfortunately I didn’t get picked for round one, but was lucky enough to be in the team from round two and stayed there to round 17.
“I can’t put finger on why form dropped off last couple of games. I thought I’d prepared well and my body felt good but I just didn’t perform on the day.
“You can’t let that happen as a professional athlete and when I was told I was dropped, I understood it and probably thought it was a fair call.
“The injury the next week was frustrating, any long-term injury is. But a consolation was that I wasn’t in first grade, it was late in the season so I only missed five games and the team wasn’t on the way to the finals. Those five game are the only ones I have missed with injury since coming into the first grade squad.
“I’m lucky that I have had the surgery and will definitely be ready for the first trial.”
The depth in the Titans wing position, and competition for selection, was as good as it probably has been at the club with Don, David Mead, Kevin Gordon and Kalifa Faifai Loa all proven top graders, and the emerging Leva Li also making his debut in round 23.
Don has the best try-scoring strike rate of the four, in fact his is the best in the team with 28 from 43 games, better than James Roberts’ 32 tries from 52 games.
Yet he still yearns to establish himself for a full season and beyond, and will work hard in the off-season to come a step closer in 2016.
ANTHONY DON’S 2015 SEASON
Avg. metres per game: 97
Avg. tackles: 3
Career stats: Games – 43; tries – 28.
ONE THING HE’D LIKE TO IMPROVE IN 2016:
“To get a bit more aggressive in my runs and put on some weight in the off-season and improve my strength. And basically just to improve my overall consistency. I thought I made some good steps this year and if I can do that again next year I’ll be a better player.”
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