2020 has been quite a ride for Jaimin Jolliffe.
The 23-year-old arrived at the Titans last off season on a train and trial contract, with no guarantee that he would be included in the Gold Coast squad let alone play a game.
Come round one, not only had he locked up a place in the squad, but he made his NRL debut against the Canberra Raiders.
14-rounds later, the no-nonsense prop from Wagga Wagga has taken a starting role and has become one of the leaders of the Titans pack.
He mightn’t be a big name just yet, but Jolliffe knows his role and says he will do whatever is needed to help Coach Justin Holbrook and the team succeed.
“I’d be happy to play any role,” Jolliffe said.
“Obviously I’ve been starting the last few weeks and I’m really feeling comfortable in the role.
“For me starting, I need to lay the platform in the middle and especially the last few weeks I feel like I’m really getting more comfortable in the role and really starting to work well with the other middles.”
After playing last season with the Newtown Jets, Jolliffe’s game has gone to a new level as he tests himself against some of the best front-rowers in the game.
“Each week I know I’ve got to step it up,” he says, highlighting the round ten loss to the Storm as his toughest test so far.
“I think Melbourne were probably the toughest (pack) so far.
“The start of that game, it was just a really tough start to the game.
“For me personally, I think that game was the biggest challenge.”
The challenges keep coming with a match up against Canberra’s Josh Papalii looming this weekend.
“It’s definitely going to be a challenge this week, but we will be up for it.
“You just have to get up and with a big fella like that you’ve just got to be bouncing up, you have to be hitting together and all of us middles have to be working together on a big bloke like that.”
It’s a simple game according to Jolliffe, or at least that is the way he likes to think of it, making sure he gets the basics in his game right as he looks to improve each week.
“I go back through it (his game) and I look at my job as a middle and ask if I’m winning my tackles, am I winning my carries, am I pushing on every play and things like that.
“It’s not too complicated as a middle, but you really have to be on the details.
“We’ve got our defensive principals and I’m just making sure that I’m nailing those each week.
“I’m just making sure I’m doing my job to the best of my ability.”
As Jolliffe has established himself in the NRL, his family have watched on from Wagga Wagga.
“I was really lucky, my family were able to come to my debut game which was in Canberra so they’ve been able to see me play this year.
“All of my family is in New South Wales and they’re stuck down there, so it is a bit disappointing that they haven’t been able to get up to a home game this year but hopefully I play a lot more games and they can come but I’m always talking to them and hopefully next year is different.”
He says the improving Titans squad want to finish 2020 strongly and are eyeing an upset win against the Raiders to kick-start a big run home.
“I think, especially the last few weeks, the team has really come a long way and everyone is really wanting to work hard for each other.
“We want results to go our way and we are not happy with that result (a loss to Cronulla last round), but each week we are improving and we are showing that we are a genuine threat as a team.
“We’re not relying on what we’ve done, each week when we go in, we know we need to step it up and that’s no different this week against the Raiders.”