Newcastle let him go, Canberra went cold and the Titans distanced themselves with a press release at the mere suggestion they had signed the 23-year-old front-rower.

But the worst thing was that Paterika Vaivai knew he had no one to blame but himself.

Charged with obstructing police and affray after an incident in Brisbane in October last year, Vaivai spent four months in rugby league purgatory waiting to hear how and where his career would continue, if it all.

A lifeline emerged courtesy of the Burleigh Bears and he set about repaying their faith with a season that has helped take them to a drought-breaking Intrust Super Cup premiership and a spot in Sunday's Intrust Super Championship at ANZ Stadium.

Eventually the Titans did come calling and he will join Gold Coast for pre-season training in November on a one-year deal as not only a more complete footballer but a more mature and responsible person.

"I was waiting for something to happen and my contract got ripped up and I just had to take it on the chin. I had to stop blaming everyone else and just look in the mirror," Vaivai told NRL.com ahead of Sunday's state championship showdown with Illawarra.

"I just think I'm a lot more mature now. It's a cliche but you do grow up when you're away from a full-time system.

"You appreciate all the stuff that you did have. Training full-time, not having to work, getting up at 4.30 every morning and pushing barrows every day.

"It's a lesson that I've had to learn and I think I've done my time and learnt for the whole year.

"I'm ready to do pre-season and get back into a full-time system with my off-field stuff solved and a bit more responsible."

As she did for his NRL debut with the Knights in 2014 Vaivai's fiancée Kirstin made a special sign for Sunday's Intrust Super Cup Grand Final and was joined by a large number of her family in cheering the Bears to victory over Redcliffe.

Rather than celebrating with his teammates on the field Vaivai headed high into the stands to thank Kirstin and her family for their support not only across the previous 80 minutes but for the past 12 months.