Ipswich talent on way to NRL future
TITANS hooker Matt Srama is feeling stronger than at any time in his career, and is set to rip into the Cowboys in Townsville tonight in the club's opening NRL fixture of the season.
The 21-year-old made his Queensland Cup debut for Ipswich when he was just 18, under former coach Glenn Lazarus.
Lazarus told the QT last year that Srama reminded him of a young Cameron Smith.
Srama had shoulder surgery in the off-season and everything was coming along fine until a freak injury in a wrestling session set him back.
"That was a minor setback. I was scheduled to play two of the three pre-season trials, but that didn't happen because of the injury," Srama told the QT at the Titans season launch this week.
"I was a bit behind the eight-ball, but now everything is 100 per cent and ready to go. I put on about five kilos, but then at the start of the pre-season I lost a bit of weight due to surgery and inactivity. My appetite just wasn't there.
"But as the shoulder progressed I worked myself harder, doing a lot of extra weight sessions, and got myself up to my goal weight of 85 kilos, which is more than the 80 or 82 I was at last year."
Meanwhile, Titans prop Luke Page, 21, will start the season with the Ipswich Jets, but is a real talent who is tipped to play NRL this year.
Page, who was initially signed to the Broncos, was then recruited into the Titans under 20s as an 18-year-old, where he made a name for himself as a strong runner of the football.
Page and Srama have played juniors together since they were 11 at Centenary Panthers. Srama has no doubt Page will play NRL this year, and Titans coach John Cartwright is of the same opinion.
"Carty sat us all down a week after Christmas and told me that I'd definitely be playing NRL this year," Page said.
"He said there was a lot of competition for places, but he usually uses up seven front-rowers a year. I was really close last year, but I've just got to be patient.
"I'm only 21 and front-rowers don't really mature until they are 23 or 24. I've just got to keep putting in the effort and it will come, I reckon."
Page said he would gain a huge benefit out of playing against men in the Intrust Super Cup after his stint in the under 20s.
He said he expected to learn plenty from co-coaches Ben and Shane Walker, both former NRL players.
"I've played two trials with Ipswich this year and I've noticed the difference," he said.
"It is not as fast as 20s, but the physicality of it is 10 times harder than what I am used to. It is going to toughen me up from that perspective. I am looking forward to playing Q Cup.
"I'm not used to having two coaches, but when I went there they welcomed me with open arms. All the boys in Ipswich are good fellas."