Titans centre Brenko Lee says the Gold Coast now have something in common with the top teams in the NRL, and it may just cost him a spot in the team for round one.
With little more than a fortnight until the club’s first trial against the Cowboys on the Sunshine Coast, competition for spots is driving Titans players to reach new heights in pre-season training.
Much-maligned forward Bryce Cartwright is cutting an impressive figure, hooker Nathan Peats holds everyone to account with his actions – and words – on the training paddock and props Jarrod Wallace and new recruit Shannon Boyd are trying to hold off the challenges presented by young tyros Morgan Boyle, Max King, Keegan Hipgrave and Moeaki Fotuaika.
Ash Taylor, Tyrone Roberts, Ryley Jacks and AJ Brimson are vying for the two halves positions but coach Garth Brennan’s most contentious selection will likely come in the centres.
The recruitment of Tyrone Peachey and return of Brian Kelly has placed enormous pressure on Lee and Dale Copley. Lee has responded by stripping weight and adding speed.
Up to seven kilograms lighter than when he finished the 2018 season, the former Raider and Bulldog filled in on the right wing outside Kelly at training on Thursday.
"At the end of the day it’s about competing,” said Lee, who played 14 games in his first season on the Gold Coast in 2018.
"Like all the clubs that are always in the top four they’ve got good depth so if we keep competing for spots and keep getting better every day it’s only going to help the Titans.
"We all know that there are some boys who will unfortunately miss out but at the end of the day they can play first grade when they need to too.
"Garth is pretty happy that he’s got a few selection headaches but that’s something we need, to compete.
"The club’s got that now and it’s about delivering."
Such is the quality of players expected to miss out each week, discussions between the Titans and feeder clubs Tweed Heads and Burleigh are proving difficult as the two Intrust Super Cup clubs negotiate player allocations.
With size, speed and a wicked step, Lee’s ceiling as he emerged in the Canberra under-20s seemed limitless.
He has existed on the periphery of Queensland Origin selection for the past two years but has struggled for consistency both in games and week to week.
More than helping to increase his speed, the 23-year-old believes a lighter frame will give him the capacity to be a stronger contributor for longer.
"It’s probably the lightest I’ve been since I was 18," he said.
"I feel quicker but more importantly I feel like I recover much faster than I did last year. It took me a while to recover after a big hit or taking a hit-up but now I feel like I can get back up on my feet and go again.
"I’ll be able to play bigger minutes at my best rather than in patches. It’s something I was guilty of last year - playing in patches.
"I’d be ordinary one minute and then good the next so it’s about consistency and being fit now I think I can get that 80 minutes of consistency in my game.
"All the hard work’s done so it’s just about playing some good footy now.
"I feel amazing. We just can’t wait for the trials to start."
Titans captain Ryan James’s medial ligament injury is worse than first thought and he is in doubt for the club’s final trial against the Broncos while Ryley Jacks has undergone a minor clean-out on his elbow that will keep him out of full training for at least two weeks.