The Titans 2020 Rookie of the Year turned up in the pre-season with no guarantees of a contract and no idea if he would be a Gold Coast player.
From a train-and-trial start, to 16 NRL games (including an NRL debut), Jaimin Jolliffe well and truly earnt the award which was announced this week.
When I came here, my goal at the start of the year was just to lock down a full-time contract and then I was lucky enough to play round one.Jaimin Jolliffe
“It’s really special (to win the award),” Jolliffe said.
“There were a few guys that got their first crack this year and for me just to be able to play each week was a big achievement and a goal that I set at the start of the year.
“To receive this award is just unbelievable, I never imagined that this is how my year would have ended.
“I’m just grateful to the Club for giving me the opportunity and I’m just excited for the following years.”
Despite having his season ended by injury, Jolliffe says 2020 worked out above any expectation he had when he first arrived on the Gold Coast.
“When I came here, my goal at the start of the year was just to lock down a full-time contract and then I was lucky enough to play round one,” he said.
“In the COVID break I sort of said to myself if I can get at least five or six games that would be unreal, but to get 16 games in my first year I’m just so grateful.
“To get this far this year it is just a real reward and I feel like I’ve been at it for a few years now and to finally be rewarded is just so special and I think my family are so proud and to be able to do it for them as well is just unbelievable.”
The NSW Country Under-18s representative was originally picked up by Cronulla, with the Wagga Kangaroos junior spending the last three seasons at the Newtown Jets.
Wanting the chance to prove himself in the NRL, Jolliffe says the move has paid off with the Titans able to see what he could offer.
“I think a fresh set of eyes on me was good, but working with Jimmy Dymock, Jimmy Lenihan and Justin they’re so smart and as coaches they really put the time and effort into players individually.
“Their coaching has really helped my game.”
The 23-year-old isn’t planning on taking a backward step this off-season, knowing that competition for spots will be stronger than ever as the Titans add some depth to their pack for 2021.
“My work ethic is something that got me noticed,” Jolliffe said.
“There are a lot of good players coming here next year, with Tino and Herman in the middle, I think there will be competition for spots and I said to Justin in my review that I want to be playing next year.
“So I’m going to be training hard and working on my game because I want to be part of the Club’s success and I can’t rest on what I’ve done this year I just need to keep improving.”