The cloud around Jai Arrow’s serious ankle injury did come with a silver lining – with Jai Whitbread able to bank valuable first-grade experience while the Queensland State of Origin star works his way back through rehab.
Whitbread has been an impressive performer for the Titans in recent weeks, filling the workhorse role in the middle of the field. Against the Storm at Cbus Super Stadium, the 21-year-old produced two tackle breaks and 94m from 11 hit-ups, on top of 28 tackles.
The South Tweed Bears junior says the unexpected extra time in the middle caused by Arrow’s injury had been a massive boost to his self-belief as he tries to establish himself as a starting forward.
“It’s definitely helped me a huge amount, especially confidence-wise, and I guess believing I’m able to perform in the NRL arena,” Whitbread said.
“I’m just focused on being able to keep building and keep on improving.
“When Jai (Arrow) comes back, and wherever I'm at, I just want to keep on improving.”
Whitbread and the rest of the Titans pack face a huge challenge against the highly rated Broncos pack at Cbus Super Stadium on Saturday, but says the Gold Coast are ready to defend their turf.
“There is pressure on everyone to perform, and I think subsequently it builds the rest of the team performance,” he said. “Everyone is putting their best foot forward to do their best for the team.”