Mitch Rein looks set to win Gold Coast’s battle for the No.9 jersey as the Titans enter a new season “back at square one” without any hype or expectation.
Rein is expected to be named hooker for the round one clash with Canberra, staving off challenges from former NSW No.9 Nathan Peats and new recruit Erin Clark to secure the starting position to face the Raiders.
While Peats has the runs on the board and rep experience with the Blues, it is the arrival of Clark that looms as the long-term threat with club officials impressed with his sharp ball service out of dummy half, his defensive line speed and ability to make an impact in defence.
But for round one Holbrook looks set to reward Rein, the 29-year-old he entrusted with the captaincy at last month's NRL Nines.
Rein was also one of the best in the trial win over Brisbane with well-timed dummy-half runs and good delivery helping the Titans attack on the front foot.
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Rein said the competition for the No.9 jersey coupled with Holbrook’s refreshing approach had driven him all summer.
“It’s been good, it’s been really enjoyable and that’s kind of flowed onto the field,” he said.
“It’s good to have a bit of healthy competition, it just strengthens our side and that’s what a lot of good sides have is competition for spots all over the park.”
Rein is confident the Titans have prepared well but he is wary not to put any pressure on the team knowing it back-fired last year.
The arrival of NSW Origin utility Tyrone Peachey and former Kangaroos Test prop Shannon Boyd increased expectations around the club but their 2019 season fell apart with just four wins and coach Garth Brennan was sacked mid-year.
Now Rein is keeping himself grounded about what can be achieved by a club many expect to finish expect to finish in the bottom half rather than the top eight.
“Last year we put a heap of pressure on ourselves at the start of the year. We had a few good signings and because we do have some good players in our squad we kind of talked ourselves up a bit,” Rein said.
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“I guess it’s just a chance for us to go back to square one, do the little things and work hard and keep competing in the games.
“Even though we finished where we finished last year we’re feeling pretty confident.
“We’ve got some awesome players in our team who are capable of scoring points from anywhere.
“With the pre-season we’ve had so far we’re really looking forward to the challenge and we’re thinking we’re going to be performing a lot better. We just can’t wait to test ourselves.”