Although a late inclusion into the Titans team last week for the match against Penrith, forward Jai Whitbread did not waste his opportunity against the Panthers in just the second NRL match of his career.
The South Tweed junior came into the side for the injured Shannon Boyd, and left the field with his head held high after an impressive 38-minute stint.
Whitbread made 23 tackles, had nine carries, and ran for 93m during his time on the field, contributing to Gold Coast’s most impressive performance of the season.
“It was great to be back in that arena,” Whitbread said. “I still had the same emotion and same feeling as my debut.
“I probably wasn’t as nervous, but it was good to be part of the first win of the year.
“I was definitely out on my feet for a bit. I didn’t think I was going to get as many minutes, but it was good to be out there and I just wanted to contribute.”
Whitbread opened 2019 playing for Burleigh Bears in the Intrust Super Cup, and while he has been starting in the front row in that grade, the 21-year-old found it that little bit harder starting from the interchange bench.
“It’s definitely nerve-wracking. Playing that waiting game does play on your mind a bit,” he said.
“Garth just spoke about running hard and winning the ruck. He wanted us to work for each other and hang in there (when times get tough).”
Whitbread is happy to bide his time as part of a squad that boasts plenty of depth in the forwards, but will continue to work hard in whatever grade he plays.
“I don’t have as much weight behind me as others, but I try to use my feet a bit,” he said. “I do love the physicality.
“I hope (to be picked for the Knights match). It’s where I want to be. A few boys are back, so we’ll see what happens.”
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