For the Titans’ pre-season rookie brigade, all of a sudden, the rugby league learning curve has taken a very steep climb.
Young, fit and skilful, few of the Gold Coast young squad members – development players, train-and-trial players, and top-squad rookies waiting for an NRL debut – have struggled to keep pace with the first-grade regulars during the first few weeks of pre-season training.
But, according to Titans Senior Assistant Coach Jim Dymock, it is around the fifth or sixth week – right about now – when reality kicks in.
“They are very energetic,” Dymock said of the teen Titans. “It is just the volume (or work) they are not used to.
“For the first couple of weeks, they are just bouncing around, jumping out of their skins.
“But getting into weeks five or six, you see them start to fatigue a little bit because they are just not used to the loads.
“Trying to get them acclimatised to the workloads, and everything you have to do – not just here but away from football – that takes a bit of time for them.”
Dymock is thoroughly enjoying his first pre-season as a Titan after making the move north following a successful stint as assistant coach at Cronulla and, before that, as interim coach and assistant coach at Canterbury.
The chance to mentor the Gold Coast’s halves and playmakers is right in the 1995 Churchill Medal winner’s wheelhouse, but he is most passionate when talk turns to the tough stuff – tackling and learning to love the contact.
“For me, especially being in the halves, the main point is getting their defence right,” he said. “A lot of them are very, very good attacking players. But if you can’t defend, you can’t play in the halves in the NRL.
“We all know the players coming through can attack. Everyone can do it, because everyone enjoys it.
“Getting your defence right is so important.
“If your attacking game is off a little bit one week, you can always fall back to your defence to get you through the game, and maybe the other half takes over more than you.
“When you are on, you want to be in there with the ball in your hands getting amongst it.
“But if you are a little bit off, or your kicking game is off, no one cares as much as long as you are defending well.”