Kane Elgey can now speak openly about the mental demons that haunted his 2017 season after a new physical training regimen at the Gold Coast Titans has restored his mojo.
The 23-year-old five-eighth enjoyed a breakout 2015 season which ended with him being named the Titans rookie of the year.
His 2016 campaign was over before it started, thanks to a ACL injury during training.
In 2017 he returned to the playing arena, but had a below-par year by his own standards.
“It was the expectations and the mental side of things that got to me and made me struggle this year,” Elgey told NRL.com.
“Physically I probably wasn’t 100 per cent. Now I feel as though I am, but the mental game was the battle for me.
“I learned a lot during the year. I’ve seen the ups and downs of footy now, and hopefully I can get back on top.
“I just hope that one year doesn’t wreck my football career.”
Elgey said the physicality of the pre-season under the guidance of new coach Garth Brennan had restored his self-belief.
“There has been a change in the training and we are doing a lot more contact, wrestling and boxing,” he said.
“I’ve gained a lot of confidence from that and for me it is all about getting out there and doing it now.
“I’ve trained enough and it is time to put that work into actions.
“Hopefully I can come out in 2018 and people will see a different player.”
Elgey’s skill, creativity and work ethic at a young age are his strengths. Another is his loyalty.
The Manly Sea Eagles tried to lure Elgey away in 2015. A campaign for him to stay was launched by Gold Coast fan group ‘’Titans Legion’’. It worked.
Elgey is off contract at the end of 2018 and wants to stay, but takes nothing for granted.
“I am a Gold Coast boy and I have been signed here since I was 15, so my first priority would be to stay here,” he said.
“But I know I will have to step it up because there are a lot of quality players coming through.”
There were recent reports Manly were interested in Elgey as a replacement for Blake Green, but that was news to him.
“I haven’t heard a thing about that,” Elgey said.
“This is my home town and the only way I’ll go is if I’m told to walk, so you heard it from me.”
Elgey is looking forward to making his halves partnership with Ash Taylor a winning one in their second season together.
“It was hard after Tyrone Roberts and Ash played so well together the year I missed out, and they were best friends as well,” Elgey said.
“But Ash and I have become close and I think we can build something pretty big here.”
Brennan said he had not settled on his final 17 for next year, but added Elgey would likely be his five-eighth.
“Kane will be given every opportunity to take that jumper in round one,” he said.
“He had a fantastic breakout season, but when Andrew Johns did his ACL at the Newcastle Knights he said it was one of the toughest injuries he had to get over and it took him 12 months to find his feet again.
“Kane has had 12 months to get over that knee injury now. He is training very well and I am excited about how he is looking.
“Kane and Ash can make a great combination. They are both young, talented and enthusiastic.”