Mitch Rein has been entrusted with the task of igniting Gold Coast's dismal offensive output as the Titans prepare to welcome back Ash Taylor and Tyrone Roberts against the Warriors on Friday night.
The Titans will be without hooker Nathan Peats for up to three months after he underwent surgery on a torn pectoral muscle on Tuesday, thrusting Rein into the starting role against South Sydney last Sunday.
Lively out of dummy-half, the former Dragons and Panthers rake ran for 51 metres and made 45 tackles in an 80-minute performance, his first appearance in the top grade in 2019.
With no other specialist No.9 on the roster, Rein will be given an extended run in the starting side by coach Garth Brennan and is determined to make the most of it.
“Hundred per cent. I always want to be doing my best and there’s an opportunity for me there now. I’ll be looking to make the most of it and really enjoy it,” Rein told NRL.com.
“We’re completely different players and all Garth has really said is to play my own game, not try to play anyone else’s game.
“I’ve got that bit of a license now so I won’t be trying to play like anyone else. I’ll just be trying to play to my strengths, strike up some combos with my teammates and hopefully we get some success.”
Starting the year with three straight losses and facing an unwanted slice of club history should they make it four, the inclusion of Rein along with the return from injury of first-choice halves Tyrone Roberts and Ash Taylor should further ignite an attack that produced one try in the first two games.
Rein’s speed out of dummy half will give the Titans far greater potency through the middle and Brennan said it was crucial that his players were tuned in to when their hooker was likely to go.
“When there’s a quick play-the-ball you know Reiny is going to run. He’s a bit sharper than Peatsy so the ruck recognition around the ball-players needs to be a bit different," Brennan said.
“They have to have their antennas up a little bit more, looking for those indicators when Reiny is going to go.
“The work ethic that Nathan brings defensively is hard to replace but Reiny does give us another dynamic as far as creativity around the ruck … manipulating the markers a little bit more and that craftiness around the dummy half area.”
Although he played all 24 games for the Titans in his first season at the club last year, Rein started in just four - when Peats was out with a rib injury.
His role was to bring energy to the middle when opposition teams were tiring but understands he needs to be a little more measured if he is to play 80 minutes every week.
Warriors v Titans - Round 4
“When you’re coming on and bringing energy you can go 100 miles an hour from the get-go,” said Rein, who had an injury-disrupted pre-season including a plantar fascia tear in his foot that prevented him from running at all for three weeks after Christmas.
“You don’t really have to worry about gassing out at all because you’re coming off anyway.
“That’s what I was planning to do last week so you do have to change your mindset a little bit and be a bit more patient at the start.
“Towards the end of the game I was gassing out a bit and getting pretty bad cramps. We were just watching the video and I was tripping over all over the shop.”