The simple act of saying “I do” has convinced Titans back-rower Kevin Proctor to undergo corrective throat surgery at the end of the season rather than waiting until the end of his career.
In a wide-ranging interview with NRL.com leading up to Friday night’s crucial clash with the Cowboys in Townsville, Proctor discussed his frustration at the team’s and his own performances since arriving at on the Gold Coast, his developing combination with halfback Ash Taylor, being overlooked for the Titans captaincy and the innocuous knock to his throat that could have ended his career.
It’s been 16 months since Proctor was struck by a stray Brenko Lee elbow in pre-season training, an incident that saw him rushed to hospital coughing up blood and struggling to breathe.
The fractured throat mended in time for him to take his place in round one last season but left him with a voice box squashed to less than half its normal size.
The gravelly nature of his voice and inability to raise it not only makes on-field communication more difficult but has affected his day-to-day life.
And although his fiancée Leesa may have grown accustomed to it – “She thinks I’m Billy Ray Cyrus or something” – Proctor said his impending wedding has convinced him to have surgery sooner rather than later.
Cowboys v Titans - Round 8
"I'm getting married at the end of the year and no one will be able to hear my speech!” said Proctor, whose voice has become a regular subject of ridicule by Titans players and coaching staff.
"I'm going to have a look at getting it fixed at the end of this year and see how we go.
"You have to do it straight after the season and then rest your voice for a month.
"It's a big operation. My voice box is less than half as long as its supposed to be so the operation lengthens it back out so you can speak a lot louder.
“But you have to have four or five weeks of voice rest where you can't speak.”
Proctor has played in six of the Titans' seven games in 2019.
He is in the third year of a four-year deal and admits his time on the 'Glitter Strip' has been “eventful”.
Appointed co-captain before pulling on a Titans jersey for the first time, Proctor was stripped of the honour due to an off-field incident whilst in camp with the Kiwis early in the 2017 season.
When Ryan James was ruled out for the season with an ACL injury just last week, coach Garth Brennan opted for Tyrone Roberts as skipper in his place but Proctor said that he didn’t feel slighted.
Episode 8 – Wayne Bennett and Darius Boyd
"I don't need the ‘c’ next to my name to be a leader here or to have a voice. I think the boys respect me enough to listen when I speak,” added Proctor, who will play his 225th NRL game on Friday night.
Given his history at the Melbourne Storm and stellar combination on the right edge with Cooper Cronk over the course of nine seasons, Proctor was viewed as the perfect recruit to instil a hard edge into a Titans team that had sneaked into the finals the year before.
He was also seen as the ideal foil for emerging half Ash Taylor, a combination he admits remains a work in progress.
“I can't say that I've played my best footy here but this year I'm feeling as good as I ever have,” said the 30-year-old Kiwi international.
"I'm still working on my combinations with Ash and we both need to find that consistency and work a bit harder on gelling as a combo.
Newcastle's effort and intent
"Only repetitions will get that. We've both been on and off the field so we're finally getting a few games together.
“Last week was only my third game with him this year so it will get better and better. Hopefully it gets better quick.”
Proctor has the same hopes for the team as a whole.
When he signed to return to where he played his first games of rugby league at Palm Beach Currumbin State High School, Proctor envisioned a Titans team that was building into a premiership force.
Despite a difficult start to the 2019 season he believes there is enough depth in the squad to deliver success on a regular basis and give die-hard Gold Coast rugby league fans the team that they deserve.
"I thought we'd be a big finals challenger. That's what I wanted to come up here for, to see the Titans be successful and get a bit of a supporter base,” Proctor admitted.
"The Gold Coast was where I played my first rugby league game. I've always wanted to play for the Gold Coast, had a soft spot for them and always wanted to end up back here.
"The Gold Coast is crying out for success in rugby league. We've finally got the squad to do it but we're not doing it at the moment. We've got to pick it up real quick before the season slips away from us.”