Staying at Titans James' No.1 priority
Aquis Gold Coast Titans 2016 Paul Broughton Medallist, Ryan James, has used the first day of pre-season training to reaffirm his desire to remain at the club despite growing interest from other NRL clubs.
Contracted to the end of the 2017 season and widely tipped to be made the club's captain next year, James has reportedly attracted interest from the Brisbane Broncos after a standout season in 2016 but is determined to remain a Titan.
The 25-year-old is hoping to have his future settled prior to the Christmas break but as he and his teammates took to their new facilities at Parkwood International for the first time on Thursday said he is eager to be part of the club's continued progression.
"Gold Coast is where I grew up and my parents come and watch me every week and family so it's definitely top of the list," said James prior to being subjected to the first gruelling testing session of the new season.
"Gold Coast is where I've played forever so I want to see the club succeed.
"I've been here through a lot of the tough times and I'd like to see it go through the good times.
"Last year was one of the better times, we made the eight finally, so hopefully we can make the finals again this year."
When the Titans beat off rival clubs to retain James's services at the start of 2014, CEO Graham Annesley described the Bilambil Jets junior as "an important part of the fabric of where we want to take the club" and reiterated the importance of his retention on Thursday.
"Ryan is an absolutely integral part of our future and when Ryan is ready to talk to us we're ready to talk to him," Annesley said.
"We'll be doing absolutely everything we can to keep him here and I'm confident that he's happy here and he wants to stay."
After two years of working out of temporary facilities in the wake of the failed Centre of Excellence at Robina, returning players and new recruits got their first look at the Titans' brand new purpose-built facilities that make up part of the Parkwood International precinct.
Former Broncos prop Jarrod Wallace was spared the sprint tests as he nurses groin injuries while Ash Taylor, Zeb Taia and Agnatius Paasi also took no part.
The only other new signing for 2017 present on Thursday was former Knight Paterika Vaivai with the likes of Tyler Cornish, Pat Politoni and Sam Saville hoping to push their case for a full-time position on 'train and trial' contracts.
Superstar Jarryd Hayne wasn't spared from the session in hot conditions as he trained alongside Konrad Hurrell, William Zillman, Tyrone Roberts and Brian Kelly.
With the departures of Greg Bird, David Mead, Nathan Friend and Luke Douglas over the off-season there is a leadership void at the Titans that James is eager to fill.
He captained the club twice in 2016 and believes the responsibility as skipper would help him to arrest his disciplinary record that has seen him become one of the most penalised players in the competition the past two seasons.
"It hasn't been talked about but I'd love to do it," James said of potentially being made captain.
"I still have to go out there and train hard and try and lead at training. I was fortunate enough to do it a couple of times last year when Nathan and 'Zilly' (Zillman) were out and I had my good mate Greg running around who I looked up to so there are big shoes to fill.
"It was something that I enjoyed doing last year. Probably need to talk to the refs a little more to bring down those penalties and work with the refs a little bit more and try and get a better relationship with them."
This article originally appeared on NRL.com.