Georgia Hale is expecting fireworks from the entire NRLW competition come February 27.
With the last elite women's match over 15 months ago and three new teams - including the Titans - ready and raring for the big stage, the three-season campaigner believes the long hiatus has ignited the motivational flame among the playing groups.
Match: Dragons v Titans
Round 1 -
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
"I’m expecting everybody to be coming out with a bit of a hiss and a roar," former Warrior Hale said.
"Having missed footy, I can imagine everyone gunning for it, which is exciting because I think this is what the NRLW has kind of been missing. We haven’t had such long stints away from the game.
"I think there will be a bit more fire in the belly for everyone to be returning and returning in good shape, hungry to not only take the field but some success again on the footy field."
'The girls are fizzing and bubbling' - Hale
Joining the Gold Coast as one of the club's marquee players, the Kiwi Ferns International is relishing her time in Queensland after crossing the ditch in March 2020, continuing to grow under a different female pathways system Australia has to what she's experienced in the past.
"I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time in Aussie so far and it's been really good," Hale said.
"I’m very used to how we do things back home in New Zealand coming through the system, especially from a grassroots system to our international Kiwi Ferns side, so it’s been really nice to connect with players, coaches and staff on the side to see how the game operates over here within the women’s space.
"I’ve learnt heaps from players I get to take the field with and also coaches we are currently training under, so it’s been a great experience so far and I look forward to more."
Always seen with a smile on her face at pre-season training, the Titans enforcer has been leading the charge with setting the team's morale, inspired by having the squad reunite after the long wait for the club's debut season following its postponement due to COVID-19.
"Energy is one of the words that’s thrown around the Titans club so it’s great we’re bringing it to training so far," Hale said.
"There’s great energy. The girls are just fizzing and bubbling to be back really.
"Just to be back on the paddock and back in the gym lifting some weights. I think what we’ve missed the most is - well we’ve all been training but it’s doing it together – it’s that unity, the connection within the group, so it’s been really nice to be sweating next to each other and getting to work.
"Even on the tougher days, training isn’t easy, but it’s much easier when you’re doing it alongside your mates."
As one of the side's senior leaders, the 26-year-old said the healthy mix of youth and experience is a huge strength given every player has something to offer.
"We definitely have a young squad but there are a few older girls within the group. That’s going to be the difference within our team looking at the others within the campaign," Hale said.
"[Our aim is to] bridge the gap between our youth and senior players, regardless or whether you're 18 or 38 – everyone has got something to contribute to the side.
"For me personally, I’m going to keep leading by example doing my thing and getting around the girls as much as possible."
As Round 1 approaches, so does the mighty Macca's NRLW local derby, which will also happen to be first ever game at home for the newest women's team in Queensland.
And the clash will be special for Hale for a number of reasons, who didn't understand the hype around the fierce rivalry between the Titans and Broncos until she arrived in the sunshine state.
Match: Titans v Broncos
Round 4 -
Venue: Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast
"There’s a special feeling when you go to Cbus. There’s a really nice presence so I’m really looking forward to taking the field for that game," Hale said.
"It’ll be Titans versus the Warriors which is my old club, so there will be a bit of excitement around that for the men’s, and then for us to set the tone for the day, coming up against the Broncos, they’re definitely a team most NRLW sides will put their hand up and say they’re looking forward to.
"The Queensland clash… I didn’t know much about it till I touched base here on the Gold Coast, but I really do hope our Gold Coast girls get up on the day.
"It’ll be an exciting game day for us all."