Few players in the NRL spent their time in COVID-19 social isolation quite as isolated as Titans prop Sam Lisone.
Lisone was a late arrival to the Club this year, joining the Gold Coast from the Warriors just before the Titans’ pre-season win over the Broncos at Redcliffe.
He arrived in his new city with no family support, and very few familiar faces to make him feel at home on the Gold Coast.
But it did not take Lisone long to make friends at the Titans, with his barnstorming runs and brutal defence endearing him to the club’s fans and coaching staff and seeing the Samoan international elevated straight into the starting team.
While he hit the ground running since his arrival from Auckland, like the rest of the competition Lisone had the rug pulled from underneath him when the NRL went into lockdown after Round 2.
But the 26-year-old was determined not to waste his early momentum, and threw himself into training while in isolation to make sure he was ready to roll when full-time training eventually returned.
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“(The lockdown) was hard, but it was probably also a good opportunity for me to really knuckle down and get my body ready,” Lisone said. “It was a hard six weeks, being isolated by myself.
“If I was isolated at home (in Auckland) I could just chill out with the boys on the street. But here, I am by myself and just knuckled down and got stuff done.
“I did a bit of everything. I did some one-on-one training with our trainer. I ate pretty well over the past six weeks and managed to drop a few kilos, so it was pretty good to come back to the mini pre-season.
“I knew that I was carrying a bit too much weight, so I tried to get myself into a bit better nick so that I could compete with the other boys.”
The competition is certainly hotting up for positions in the Titans pack.
While the time away has served Lisone well, it has been even more beneficial for the likes of Moeaki Fotuaika, Shannon Boyd and Keegan Hipgrave who are now all back to full fitness and pushing for a starting spot in the pack when the Titans take on the Cowboys next Friday night.
“Whether they are starting and I am on the bench, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “We want this club to win. It comes down to whoever is going to get the job done.
“It is a healthy competition between the boys. It is going to be good. We have a good forward pack and a good team, so I am excited to play some footy.
“All the boys are on the one page. Coming back from the pandemic, everyone has flicked the switch.
“Everyone wants to win. We want to repay the fans and restore some pride in our jersey.”
Article first seen in today's Gold Coast Bulletin.