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'I'm a changed man': Ese'ese ready to impress in recall after infamous Magic Round moment

It's said actions speak louder than words and for Herman Ese'ese, that sentiment couldn't be anymore true.

Almost 12 months since his last appearance in the NRL - as fate would have it, against the Panthers in Magic Round last season - the 96-game forward gets his opportunity to impress with a recall to the Titans' top 17 and can't wait for the opportunity.

"It's been a while since my last game. Justin told me on Tuesday and I'm just really grateful, happy and excited," Ese'ese said.

"Obviously my last game was against the Panthers, so it's good to come up against them again."

Being marched in that match for an accidental high shot, the 27-year-old feels he is a changed man and has happily put that game behind him, whilst learning plenty from it.

"I definitely learned a lot from that game... I'm a changed man," Ese'ese said with a cheeky grin.

However, it is true... the middle forward enforcer is a new and improved player in 2022. By his own admission, last year's season wasn't his best, motivating the Samoan International to work hard during the pre-season to return to the NRL stage. 

'I want to put my best foot forward' - Ese'ese

Improving on his fitness - losing nine kilograms over the break to get back to his peak - the prop is feeling good and ready to put his best foot forward.

"The season that just went wasn’t really my best and I didn’t get much game time. That was kind of the motivation for me," Ese'ese said earlier in the year.

"That’s why the first day of pre-season, I just wanted to put my best foot forward and earn that spot.

"I’ve just tried to work hard during the pre-season and get my body right and I feel like I’ve done that."

Impressing coach Justin Holbrook through his two appearances with the Burleigh Bears in this year's Hostplus Cup, Ese'ese wishes he could've played more footy, but as a regular traveller with the team in the new 24-man squad due to COVID, understands that's how it is in 2022.

"It's pretty frustrating, but obviously that's the new rules now," Ese'ese said.

"You wish you could get some game time when you're not playing NRL, but with the new rules, you've just got to roll with the punches and it is what it is."

The hard man's focus on Friday night in his first game back in Titans colours... bringing plenty of spark off the bench to ignite his fellow teammates.

"I just want to bring a lot of energy off the bench and keep that momentum rolling once the starting middles come off," Ese'ese said.

"That's pretty much my job. I don't know how long I'll be playing, but I'll just focus on that at the moment, bringing plenty of energy off the bench."

Be there to witness a battle of the young guns, with scintillating stars AJ Brimson and Jarome Luai headlining the Titans' Round 8 Friday night showdown against the Penrith Panthers at Cbus Super Stadium.

Secure your seat now!

Acknowledgement of Country

Gold Coast Titans proudly acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are situated, the Kombumerri families of the Yugambeh Language Region. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging, and recognise their continuing connections to the lands, waters and their extended communities throughout South East Queensland.