Sam Verrills left the Sydney Roosters two years early for a chance to remain a regular starter – but he understands there will be nothing guaranteed at his new club.
The 23-year-old was signed with the Tricolours until the end of 2024, but was essentially forced out when the club opted to sign Brandon Smith on a big-money deal to wear to the No.9 jumper.
Verrills – who won a premiership with the Roosters in 2019 – will now take on the tough task of helping the Gold Coast Titans back into the finals after a disappointing 2022 campaign.
He will link up with fellow recruit Kieran Foran in the spine, with the club hoping two players in key positions with big-game experience can help their young core group find more consistency.
Speaking for the first time in Titans colours on Monday, Verrills said the opportunity to lock down the dummy-half role was a big factor in his decision to relocate to Queensland, but isn’t getting too far ahead of himself.
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“Obviously it’s appealing, but I’ve also got to work for my job as well – it’s not just guaranteed,” he said.
“I can’t wait to rip in at training and prove to the lads here that I will be the No.9 here for a while.
“I haven’t really read anything about it in the media to be honest. I’ve been away so I’m not sure what you guys are all saying [about me].
“I had a few injuries a couple of years ago, but obviously having last year and a good run of games, it builds the confidence back up. It was unfortunate the way it ended for us down in Sydney, but I was really happy with my game.
“There’s always room for improvement and that’s what pre-season is about. I can’t wait to form some new combinations with the players here and showcase that.”
“I promise I will put my best foot forward to cement this No.9 spot for a while.”
Verrills has played just 48 games across four seasons in the NRL, battling through a multitude of injuries that included an ACL rupture and detached retina.
His move to the Titans comes with plenty of buzz, given the fact he is still so young and has already tasted premiership success – something his new club are hoping for in the coming years.
Verrills believes the forward pack – especially the likes of Tino Fa’asuamaleaui and Moeaki Fotuaika – will take his individual game to the next level.
“It’s a very good forward pack – coming up against them last year, they are very tough…I can’t wait to add my game into this forward pack and play alongside these players,” he said.
“It’s a young forward pack but they’ve got plenty of experience. Tino and Mo and David Fifita are all overseas [for the World Cup] and so is Isaac Liu, so they’ve got a lot of experience at international level and State of Origin level.
“It’s a good place to be this year for me. They are all fast and agile forwards and they can play the ball really quickly for me.
“I’m really looking forward to playing with Kieran Foran as well – he is a Manly boy and I’m from the beaches. Growing up, I always watched him play and he is a tough competitor.
“I don’t know why we can’t be a finals team – we definitely will. I’m keen to get out there and prove a point.”
Gold Coast had a strong 2021 season, making the finals and nearly knocking off the Roosters, before dropping back down the ladder the following year and placing head coach Justin Holbrook under immense pressure.
But the time that Holbrook spent at the Roosters as an assistant coach ended up proving to be beneficial in landing the signature of Verrills, who knocked back interest from rival clubs such as the Dragons and Eels to sign with the Titans for two years.
“Obviously the coach [attracted me to the club]…he was down at the Roosters and he had a lot to do with the Roosters,” he said.
“I spoke to a lot of the players down there and they always talked highly about Justin. When I had a meeting with him, he was really good and that made me want to come up here.
“They weren’t far off knocking the Roosters off the year before in the finals, so they are definitely not far off.”
Gold Coast will kick off their 2023 campaign against the Wests Tigers on Sunday, March 5th.