Veteran Titans winger Anthony Don is determined to extend his NRL career on the Gold Coast but is willing to leave the one club he has called home if he is unable to secure a new deal in 2020.
Don is one of nine Titans players fighting for new contracts this season and the 32-year-old former Paul Broughton Medal winner knows he needs a big season to impress new coach Justin Holbrook if he is to be retained in 2021.
Don finished last season playing for Burleigh Bears in the Intrust Super Cup but his commitment and persistence in pre-season training is set to be rewarded with round one selection by Holbrook for Friday’s clash with the Raiders in Canberra.
Don, who has notched 127 games and 75 tries for the Gold Coast, knows this is an important year in his career and he is keen to ensure it is not his last at the Titans.
“At the moment obviously the club is not going to rush into negotiations because we haven’t started playing but I feel my body is really good at the moment and I feel fresh in the mind,” Don told NRL.com.
“If I had to say right now I definitely want to keep going but in a footy season anything can happen, you can get out of form, you can get an injury or the club doesn’t want you.
“There’s a lot of things that have to fall in to place for me to keep going and stay here but that’s what the plan is.
“You have to consider it (leaving) if you’re really dead-set keen on playing, you can’t just limit yourself to one club but ideally, in a perfect world, I wouldn’t want to leave but you never know what’s going to happen.”
While some players find being off-contract a stressful situation, Don knows how to keep himself on an even keel when his football career is at a crossroads.
And when you’re battling the likes of Philip Sami, Dale Copley and new recruit Jonus Pearson for a spot in the team Don accepts that sometimes you’re just not top of the pecking order despite how well you may be playing.
“I’m just going to do my best at training and play my best. If I’m doing that it doesn’t bother me if I’m playing first grade or QCup for Burleigh,” he said.
“Sometimes you can be playing really good and training as best as you can and then someone else is just a fraction better than you then you might not get picked. I’m not going to let that get me down if I’m playing good within myself.
“It’s always been my philosophy not to get too worried about things if they’re not going your way and just focus on what you can control.”
When he struggled for NRL selection last year Don occupied his down time by completing the final year of his Masters of Business degree at the University of New England.
Episode 2 - Michael Morgan
This season he has his five-month-old daughter Frankie to keep him busy away from footy and, while he credits his wife Samantha for doing all the hard yards at home, being a new father has given him a new focus away from the club now his degree is finished.
“(Study) was good to keep your mind off footy so when you go home you’ve got something else to think about and feel like you actually achieving something outside the game,” Don said.
“Sometimes if you’re not playing good you might put your head down but with outside other things to work on (like study) you have a sense of achievement.
“(Now being a father) It’s been unreal going away and then coming home to see Frankie and she is smiling and always laughing or has a big grin on her face. It’s been a great experience.”