FORMER Ipswich Jets hooker Matt Srama is ready to fill the leadership void left by Scott Prince's departure at the Gold Coast Titans this season.
Srama played half a game at hooker for the Titans in their 16-14 trial win over the Broncos at Redcliffe on Saturday night and was pleased with his performance and that of his team.
"The trial indicated it's going to be a good year for myself and the club as well," he said.
That confidence came not only from Saturday's result but from a pre-season that has seen expectations within the club rise.
"My body's a bit better," Srama said of his own optimism for 2013.
"This time last year I didn't get to play in trials due to shoulder surgery.
"I've had a solid pre-season, have put on a bit of weight and my fitness is up."
Srama still only weighs 84kg, which puts him among the lightest players in the NRL.
But he is happy to trade size for fitness and mobility.
"Some players are different but I'm pretty confident at this weight," he said.
"A bit more size would help, considering in forward packs these days the minimum weight is 100kg.
"But I'm more in favour of being fit than too large."
He's not the only one it seems.
"Jamal Idris and David Taylor are the fittest I've ever seen them," he said of the Titans' resident giants in the NRL.
"We've got a good youthful backline and halves and a few old-heads in the forwards.
"We're really looking forward to a positive 2013.
"There's a buzz around the club.
On Saturday the Titans were up against their former captain Prince, who joined the Broncos in the off-season after being discarded by the Titans.
Prince came off the bench for his new club.
"It was a bit different playing against him," Srama said.
"To be honest, it was a bit upsetting at the time (when he left).
"But it's proved a blessing in disguise.
"It gave the opportunity for new faces to step up and grab the number seven jersey.
"We've lost his experience but gained a lot of enthusiasm and youthfulness."
Starting in the halves for the Titans on Saturday were Albert Kelly and Aidan Sezer, who looked comfortable against the Broncos.
Their inexperience means more responsibility for the 22-year old Srama at dummy half - something he readily accepts.
"I'm willing to pick up the test," he said.
"I'm coming into my third year now.
"It's time for me to step up and become a leader for the younger boys.
"I'd like to lead by example.
"I'm still learning a lot about my own game."
He may be learning but Srama is being spoken of as the heir apparent to Cameron Smith as Queensland hooker.
But it is not something Srama will let affect his game or his ego.
"People have mentioned it here and there," he said.
"I don't really look at it at all.
"I'm still focused on cementing my spot at the Titans.
"Years down the track it would be a dream to play State of Origin for Queensland but it is not even in my head at the moment."
Favourite TV show: The Family Guy.
Favourite movie: Shawshank Redemption.
Favourite players growing up: Craig Wing and Johnathan Thurston.
Biggest influence: My family.
Pre-match ritual: I'm a big sleeper and I like getting an early night. So I make my missus sleep in the other room.
Pre-match meal: Spaghetti bolognese.
Best advice: Back yourself.
Person you would least like to get stuck in an elevator with: Dave Taylor. There wouldn't be enough room and he's a heavy breather.
If you weren't playing league, what would you be doing: Something with children. Maybe a PE teacher.
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