Titans prop Moeaki Fotuaika enjoyed a breakout season in 2020 and teammate Jarrod Wallace is backing him to continue his ascent into elite territory.
While much of the focus at the Gold Coast has been on representative forward recruits David Fifita and Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, Wallace believes Fotuaika can become a Test player in the near future.
The 21-year-old, who debuted for the Titans in 2018, was handed his maiden Queensland jersey in game two of their series triumph in November. Wallace, a former Maroon, knows the value it will bring.
"Moey's just got so much behind him. He's strong, he's fast, he's got a massive motor," Wallace told reporters on Tuesday.
"He doesn't talk much, but he shows with his actions. He's running with the outside backs out there [at training], he's fit.
"That confidence that he would've taken out of Origin with Wayne [Bennett] as a coach and playing with [Daly] Cherry-Evans and Christian Welch and those boys up front who have played grand finals - you'd be surprised how much you take out of those camps.
"He's come in here a lot more confident, a lot more of a senior role – he's not the young kid anymore. He's won a Paul Broughton [Medal for Titans Player of the Year in 2019], he's played over 50 games now … He's got a job to do and [will] lead our pack."
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Despite his youth, Wallace already considers Fotuaika to be among the best in their front-row position.
"There's not many that are getting him on metres, there's not many every week that are getting him at tackling," he said.
"He doesn't just do the 200 metres a week and do the 50 tackles, it's the other things off the ball. It's the supports he's doing, he doesn't miss many tackles, he's always the big boy that's pushing with all the guys that are running off the ball."
At 29, Wallace is embracing his elder statesman status in the pack and feeding off the energy of Fotuaika, premiership-winning Storm lock Fa'asuamaleaui (20), Fifita (20), ex-Wests Tiger Sam McIntyre (22), Jaimin Jolliffe (24) and Herman Ese'ese (26).
"Things like that, I feel really old ... It's really exciting. The boys are upbeat. They're fit, they're fast, they're strong in the gym," he said.
"It just makes me excited to be playing with those young guys. I'm just excited to see what they can do this year and where we can put ourselves, because at the end of the day if our forward pack's not going forward, our backs can't do anything."
The Gold Coast are aiming to build on their ninth-place finish last year and return to the finals for the first time since 2016.