New Titans coach Garth Brennan once kept a little black book which had centre Dale Copley’s name inscribed within its pages.
When Brennan told the 26-year-old the significance of that entry it was a great source of relief and encouragement, after he was released early from his previous deals with the Broncos and Roosters.
Brennan, a former under 20s coach with the Knights and Panthers, took up the story when NRL.com had a chat to him about Copley.
“I coached against Dale in the under 20s for a long time when he was at Brisbane and I used to keep a little black book,” Brennan said.
“Any player I rated in an opposition team that we came up against I would write their name down, just in case I became a head coach one day so I could look in the little black book at the good kids who had come through the 20s.
“Dale was in that black book, so it is funny how things work out. I told him that story when I had a one-on-one with him.”
Copley has had three clubs in the last three years after moving from the Broncos to the Roosters and then the Titans at the start of 2017.
His three-year deal at the Roosters was cut short to one, so Brennan’s little black book story removed doubts about his own future at the Titans.
“It was very comforting when Garth told me that,” Copley said.
“When a new coach takes over they have their own idea about players and opinions about what type of player they want.
“There can be a bit of turnover when a new coach takes over so it was very comforting to know that he had a good opinion of me.
“I knew that I wouldn’t be moving on and it put my mind at ease that he wanted me here. Now I’ve got to deliver.
“Garth has been really good. He has brought fresh ideas and all the boys are benefitting from his enthusiasm.
“He has said he is keen to play a free flowing style of footy. That will develop over the pre-season and it will be pretty exciting if we can get to that.”
Copley, who is off contract at the end of next season, is keen to form a potent attacking centre combination with Konrad Hurrell in 2018.
Injuries and losses have forced the Titans to change their lineup in 2017 and it was hard for the side to get any continuity.
If Copley and Hurrell’s name can be on the team sheet each week next year then it could well be a sign of a Titans resurgence.
“That would be really good, but I would like to see the same 1 to 17 on the team sheet every time,” Copley said.
“We struggled to trot out the same team week-to-week last season and me and Konnie picked up little injuries along the way.
“Hopefully the whole squad can have an injury free year because it is very disruptive when that (chop and change) happens.
“It is no coincidence that the teams that win the comp don’t generally use a whole heap of players throughout the year.”
Copley, who is studying law at university, spent seven years in the Broncos system and slotted in well with the team structures after having regular pre-seasons with the club.
He joined the Roosters in January of 2016 and linked with the Titans in March of 2017, so missed pre-season with his teammates.
That is why he is relishing the opportunity this summer will bring.
“It has been three different clubs and three different cities that I have had to pack up and move to, which has been pretty disruptive.
“Not doing pre-season with the clubs you play with is difficult when you come in late and try and build combinations.
“I am really looking forward to this coming year and I think me, and the players inside and outside me, will benefit from this time in the summer and getting to build some combinations and how we want to play.”