Mead signs the school shirt of Jake Gomes, of Coraki, at the Evans River K-12 school yesterday.
Mead signs the school shirt of Jake Gomes, of Coraki, at the Evans River K-12 school yesterday. Jay Cronan

Mead vies for Titans opener

RUGBY LEAGUE: Lismore speedster David Mead can’t wait to get on the paddock with the new-look Gold Coast Titans for the opening clash of 2010.

Actually, he isn’t even sure if he will.

The Titans have bought so well in the backline that even last year’s incumbents aren’t assured of their spot, but one suspects the man who burst onto the scene with eight tries in 14 games should be safe.

Visiting Far North Coast schools as part of the NRL’s Eat Well, Play Well, Stay Well campaign, Mead told The Northern Star of the competition that is breeding within the Titans as they attempt to squeeze eight into four.

“Everyone is battling to be in the team come round one,” Mead said.

“There is a lot of competition from within; everyone is training the house down so that’s a great thing for the team.”

With Scott Prince, Preston Campbell and Mat Rogers the only backs to have a mortgage on a jumper there will be a mad scramble to fill the remaining positions with the March 14 opener as a deadline.

Mead will likely retain his spot on the right wing, but who will play inside him looks the most contentious selection of them all.

Joseph Tomane, Esi Tonga, Sam Tagataese and Clinton Toopi will be fighting for one centre position and although each is well credentialed, four ‘Ts’ don’t go into one.

Tomane was bought from the all-powerful Melbourne Strom in the off-season and can kick goals, Tonga burst on to the scene in ’08 and last year formed a lethal partnership with Kevin Gordon on the left flank, Tagataese shifted to the centres late last year with wrecking-ball effects and Toopi has played 14 Tests for New Zealand in the three-quarter line.

All are a chance but Mead was quick to establish where his loyalties lie.

“I’d love to have Toopi inside me,” he said. “But he is my new roommate so maybe I am a bit biased.”

One thing that is certain, whoever does run on to the park for the opening match at Skilled Park, Robina, will know they are there – the match is scheduled for 1pm, ensuring a heated encounter.

“We have been training in the heat all pre-season so we are ready for it,” Mead said.

The match represents the start of a big year for the 21-year-old, apart from club duties he will represent his beloved Papua New Guinea in the Four Nations at the end of the year after helping them qualify through to the 2009 Pacific Nations Cup.

“That is one thing that I really look forward to,” he said.

“There is nothing better than representing your country.”

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