Laid-back Arrow swaps beers for baths

It says a lot about Jai Arrow that the one thing he bragged about after leaving Shark Park last Saturday were his kick-offs.

Somewhat of a shock choice in the absence of first-choice halves Ash Taylor and Tyrone Roberts, Arrow turned to prop Max King on the bus ride back to the hotel, nudged him with his elbow and remarked, "Did you see him drop it?"

Never mind the fact that Arrow had amassed an astonishing 290 run metres, 27 tackles, seven tackle breaks and a line break, the unassuming 23-year-old just wanted to talk kick-offs and revel in the fact winger Sione Katoa spilled one of his high floaters.

"Everyone was taking the mickey out of him but they were pretty good kick-offs. He was nailing them," King told NRL.com.

"When it got to game day I was a bit nervous for him and said to him, 'I hope you’re nailing these'. I don't know if he even thought about it.

"He was bragging to me on the way home on the bus. 'Did you see him drop it?' That just sums him up as a person."

Titans forward Jai Arrow.
Titans forward Jai Arrow. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

But the tenacious competitor that emerges each week over 80 minutes is far more relaxed the rest of the week.

He's not a fanatical competitor who throws table tennis bats or PlayStation controllers if he loses. Even on the training paddock he's happy to step aside and let others into the fray.

He does his work but does it quietly and then flicks the switch 20 minutes prior to kick-off.

"He's not a competitive freak. He's more chilled out, have a joke, have a laugh with him," King explained.

"Someone like Peatsy [Nathan Peats] is competitive in everything and if he loses he will get angry and spray you but Jai is pretty laid back.

"Before a game he just sits in the sheds with his headphones on. He doesn't really talk to anyone and just does his own thing. Fifteen minutes before our warm-up he'll take his headphones off and get his strapping done and things like that.

"You wouldn't realise how good a football player he is until you watch the game because he doesn't really present that in his personality."

One area in which fellow Queensland Origin representative Jarrod Wallace has noticed a change in Arrow in 2019 is in his preparation.

He's replaced ice-cold beers on the weekend with ice baths and stretching.

"He's off the drink and making sure that he is putting his body and his football first this year," Wallace said.

"He's doing his ice baths and doing his stretching; I don't think I saw him stretch once last year.

"When I come in and find him stretching that's really good to see and that's obviously why he is playing the way he is too.

"He's a guy who you know what he's going to bring to the field every time. You know he's going to put in 100 per cent every time. He's a guy that players love playing with and that's why he's our starting lock and one of our best players."

That is also reflected in the testing undertaken by the Titans strength and conditioning staff.

Although there are faster and stronger players in the club, Arrow's ability to perform at a high level for an extended period of time makes him exceptional.

"Jai has a great ability to remain at a high level of performance under extreme fatigue," Titans head of performance Dan Ferris told NRL.com.

"You will notice Jai can maintain the same intensity from the first to the 80th minute. This translates on field in what we call 'special efforts'. Turning up to make a tackle or taking a tough carry when the team needs it most.

"His ability to perform at a consistent level throughout the match is why he is so valuable to the team."

As for his kicking proficiency, King revealed that if the Titans are in any close contests this season their tireless lock forward just might also be their match-winner.

"I was watching him at training and there were five or six sessions in a row when he was nailing these field goals from 40 metres out on the sideline," King said.

"I thought he might have fluked one and then he kept doing it."