Darius Farmer is 20 years of age. He stands 193cm tall, weighs 103kg.
He is ultra-professional in his approach to training and, according to GPS tracking data, is the fourth-fastest player at the Titans.
He is a former Queensland Under-16s and New Zealand Under-18s representative, a regular Intrust Super Cup player with the Burleigh Bears, and is in line for an NRL debut in 2020.
Not surprisingly, all of these factors made him an obvious candidate for a two-year contract extension at the Titans – a deal he signed this week.
What is shocking about the Darius Farmer story is that none of these factors prevented him from being diagnosed with testicular cancer.
At the start of 2019, Farmer seemed to have the world at his feet.
Called into the Titans’ NRL squad for the first time for pre-season training, Farmer looked set to join his former Titans Under-20s teammates AJ Brimson, Moeaki Fotuaika and Phillip Sami in graduating to the NRL.
His confidence was boosted after impressing in the Titans’ pre-season trial against the Cowboys, and despite starting the season in the ISC with Burleigh, an NRL call-up only seemed a matter of time.
But in the middle of the season, Farmer’s world collapsed underneath him.
“I was diagnosed with testicular cancer,” Farmer recalls. “I just stumbled onto it pretty much by chance.
“I was playing a bit of footy, got hit in the jewels. It swelled up really bad, and I had to go and get tested.
“I got the scans, and then got hit with testicular cancer.”
It is hard to picture a situation that could do more to rattle a fit and healthy, 20-year-old, aspiring NRL player.
But not long after receiving that diagnosis, Farmer was rocked by the news another former Titans Under-20s teammate – Zae Wallace – had passed away in New Zealand.
Wallace passed away after spending six weeks in a coma following an infection after catching the flu.
Farmer and Brimson travelled to New Zealand for Wallace’s funeral to farewell their friend.
The death of a peer is enough for anyone to think about their own mortality, especially at 20 years of age. But Farmer had more to think about than most.
“The day I came back from New Zealand, that is when I found out I had to go for surgery the following Monday,” Farmer said.
“I used to get tired real easy. My legs used to give way a lot, I used to lose a bit of punch in my legs as well. I didn’t think anything of it – I just thought I was a bit weak, or fatigued or wasn’t fit enough.
“But it turns out it was something like that. It was a bit freaky for my old lady and my old man.
“It was really disappointing, especially because it was my first year doing a pre-season with the boys.
“I was as fit as I could be, and strong as well. I worked pretty hard to get where I was, and then I got hit with that, and I had to start all over again.
“It was a 10-week process, not being able to lift a weight or walk around. I had to start from the bottom. To get hit with that when you are at your peak, it is a bit of a low blow.”
Farmer said he hopes his experience would serve as a warning to all young males to be conscious about their health and have regular check-ups to see whether they have any serious issues lurking in the corner.
It is a message echoed by league legend and Titans coaching consultant Trevor Gillmeister, who recently had successful surgery for prostate cancer after his condition showed up in a routine blood test.
According to Cancer Council Australia, testicular cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer after skin cancer in men in Australia aged 20-39.
“I am happy that it is all out of me,” Farmer said. “We caught it early, it was only a Grade 1.
“I know that I wasn’t the first and I won’t be the last to get something like that.
“You just never know. You can be as fit as you can be, be as strong as you want. But you could have something in the background that you don’t know of.
“The doctor said it is very common among men our age – especially 20 to 25 years. I think it is worth getting checked out.
“Especially when you are so fit and so strong at that age, you just don’t think you have anything wrong with you until you stumble upon it or something bad happens to you.”
After some very dark times in 2019, Farmer is now fully focused on better days ahead.
Remarkably, despite the year he had, Farmer managed to fight his way back onto the field and turned out for Burleigh just a couple of months after his surgery.
Now, with a two-year extension keeping him at the Titans until at least the end of 2021, he is looking to make up for lost time and reignite his push for an NRL debut under new coach Justin Holbrook in 2020.
“It is really exciting,” Farmer said. “I owe this club a fair bit, and they have taken a chance on me again. I am just really excited about 2020 and 2021.
“I have had a couple of major and minor setbacks. But it is all good. I am back, and better.
“That is where I am at. I am excited. The reason being, I have nothing holding me back anymore.
“I understand why I was lacking a bit in my legs and whatnot. But there is nothing holding me back anymore, so I am just excited for 2020 and 2021.
“Like Kevvie Proctor says, he is in it for the glory days. We are just waiting, waiting for the glory days.
“And I want to stick around for that.”