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Competition delay cruel twist of fate for Jolliffe after breaking into NRL

The NRL's decision to suspend the competition is bad news for all NRL players but for Jaimin Jolliffe, it has arrived just when he was establishing himself in first grade.

The 23-year-old former Newtown Jets front-rower moved to the Gold Coast with little more than an opportunity in the off-season but emerged as a success story of the NRL train and trial contract system.

He arrived at the Titans on November 18 with a chance to ignite an NRL career by joining the Gold Coast’s squad, if he could impress new coach Justin Holbrook.

Lured north by the Burleigh Bears, who Jolliffe beat in last year’s Interstate Championship game with the Jets, he has since secured a 2020 NRL contract with the Titans, made his NRL debut and backed it up with another strong performance in Sunday’s 46-6 loss to Parramatta.

While the results have been disappointing for the Titans, it had been a memorable fortnight for Jolliffe before the NRL's announcement on Monday night to suspend the competition indefinitely.

"I came here just on a train and trial. Burleigh gave me an opportunity to come up here and test myself. I can’t thank the club enough for just giving me an opportunity, they took me seriously, I gave it my best and they’ve rewarded me," Jolliffe said.

"My goal was to lock down a spot in the squad. I just wanted to keep impressing.

"I never thought that I would get the debut. It was in the future, that was a long-term goal.

Match Highlights: Titans v Eels

"I didn’t see it coming and when I was told that I was making my debut it was special for me but also for my family as well because growing up they put in a lot more work than I did getting me to football and giving me every opportunity, so it was special for the whole family."

Jolliffe considers himself lucky that his entire family were able to get to Canberra for his NRL debut in round one, especially since crowds were then locked out of games amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"They were all there, my family, cousins, I had mates go as well," he said.

"I had my pop, he had an operation on his foot I think a week earlier and when I spoke to him he said he couldn’t get there but when I got to the game he was there with the crutches, he just wouldn’t miss it.

"They were all there and that was really special … it was disappointing we lost but to tick off that lifelong goal with them there supporting is something I will never forget."