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Stronger, fitter, fresher: Ryan's recon mission right on track

Ryan James insists he can come back from a second knee reconstruction a more explosive forward than ever after a successful recovery has him on track to play in the Titans' opening match of 2020 against Canberra.

James suffered an ACL injury in 2011 to his left knee when he was tackled by Parramatta's Nathan Peats, who is now a teammate at the Titans.

This year against the Knights in round six a ball ricocheted away from James. He was going one way and as he twisted towards it, he said it was "the perfect recipe for an ACL" as his right knee gave way.

The most recent injury was not as serious as the first and James has made a stunning recovery.

"I was only young the first time and my recovery took a lot longer because it was ACL, meniscus and medial whereas this one was just the ACL," James told NRL.com.

Ryan James' 2019 season ended after just six games.
Ryan James' 2019 season ended after just six games. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

"I went into surgery with pretty good muscle around my knee and I came out pretty good as well.

"It has been seven months and I could do full training right now but they are just easing me into it because the seven to nine month period is when you are most susceptible to doing it again. There is no rush because we aren’t playing footy for another four months.

"I already feel as though I am stronger and fitter. The body is feeling fresher. Injuries never come at a good time but I am 10 years into my footy career and your shoulders and just about everywhere starts to get some wear and tear.

"As bad as the injury was, everything else is healed. My knee is already off my mind and the physio team has done a great job getting me back to 100 per cent."

James was playing his best football before he suffered the injury.

In 2018 he won the Paul Broughton Medal for the second time as the Titans' player of the year, the same season he was in the NSW Blues squad and on the cusp of making his Origin debut until coach Brad Fittler decided to go with David Klemmer.

The 28-year-old intends to not just return to the form he was showcasing previously but also to ramp it up a notch.

"I was happy with the way I was performing. I was playing long minutes and still will be able to, but hopefully I can pull them back a little bit and be more dominant in the things I do," James said.

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"When you play big minutes you are always trying to find a rest somewhere but the games now are getting more explosive and the best front-rowers like Jared Waerea-Hargreaves are explosive for 50 or 60 minutes.

"I want to be able to make a statement and do whatever the team needs in the moment to try and change a game."

James has played 144 games for the Titans. He is signed until the end of 2020 and wants to finish his career on the Gold Coast as a 200-plus game player.

"I have openly said I have always wanted to be a one-club man and the Titans is where my heart is. It is up to the coaching staff and will depend on how I play this next year,” he said.

"Hopefully I can play good footy and something can be done because I love the club and this is where I want to be. I don’t want to go anywhere."

James has plenty to keep him busy away from the field to ensure he is well prepared for life after football.

"Keegan Hipgrave and I are both doing our masters degree at Bond University. Mine is in business," James said.

"Adco Construction offered us a scholarship so I will be doing that over the next three years."

The Titans have a mountain to climb after running last in 2019 and James says the early signs are good under new coach Justin Holbrook.

"You look around and everyone is happy and on the same page. Justin has done some little things like making training just that little bit later so you get to have breakfast with your family," he said.

"It is only 90 minutes later but that gives me time to get the kids ready in the morning and my wife gets to have a sleep-in. Little things like that just help to make everyone a bit happier."