Marquee signing David Fifita is confident he will have the match fitness to be an 80-minute player for the Titans despite being shocked at the new speed of the game in the All Stars season opener.
Fifita was surprised at the speed of the ruck area under the new six-again interpretations with offside added to the infringements referees can penalise by restarting a tackle count.
The rule change is designed to speed up the game and reduce stoppages and every player noted the difference it had made in the aftermath of the 10-10 draw with the Maori in Townsville on Saturday.
Fifita admitted his lungs were burning in his first game since an ankle injury ended his 2020 season and while the plan was just to play in 10-minute bursts he ended up being the Indigenous side’s leading forward with 141 metres and six tackle breaks from 15 hit-ups in 62 minutes of action.
His comeback performance in the Harvey Norman All Stars bodes well for 2021 with Fifita confident he will be ready to play 80 minutes in round one after next Saturday’s final trial against the Warriors in Lismore.
Match Highlights: Indigenous v Maori
"It was a fast game out there, my first time getting on the paddock for a while but I feel the match fitness is the one for me to get over now for myself and I’m just looking forward to next weekend for our trial against the Warriors," Fifita said.
"The lungs were feeling it hard with the new rules six to go and all that.
"Our first 15 or 20 minutes they had all the possession down our end.
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"With six to go it’s just silly discipline what happened and myself included there out of marker. I just need to be smarter and work on my game.
"I want to play 80 [minutes]. Tonight was just about finding my groove and getting back out there having a little taste of it.
"I just can’t wait to get to round one, get these trials done and my match fitness up and hopefully showcase what we’ve been doing in the off-season."
One area that would’ve pleased Titans coach Justin Holbrook and their fans from the Indigenous team's performance was the combination between Fifita and halfback Jamal Fogarty.
It was clear Fogarty’s instructions are to give Fifita as much early ball as possible and the powerful 20-year-old said he would enjoy building that combination in the coming weeks.
Fifita said he’d watched a replay of the Titans’ Friday night trial loss to Burleigh Bears but wasn’t reading too much into the presence of Cameron Smith in the grandstands for the game played on the Gold Coast.
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While Smith has admitted he has a big decision to make about playing on again in 2021, Fifita wasn’t prepared to weigh in on the possibility of the Storm legend joining the Titans although the veteran hooker would be welcome to join training to see if he wants to play on or not.
"He can do it [come down to training] if he likes, that’s up to him, but Mal [Meninga] already said what he said so we will see what happens,” Fifita said.
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