LUKE O’Dwyer is savouring every moment of this week’s build-up to the Titans’ home semi-final against the New Zealand Warriors.
This time last year, the Bilambil Heights product was coming to terms with the cruel knee injury which ended his season only a week out from the Titans’ history-making first NRL finals appearance.
The foundation Titan could only watch as the side was bundled out of the competition in straight sets. It has been a long road back for O’Dwyer, having returned to rugby league for the Tweed Seagulls after eight months on the sideline, then injuring himself again in his round 15 return to the Titans.
The injuries are almost forgotten now and O’Dwyer has made a number of appearances for the Titans this season. He will be named as part of an extended squad today, but his position could depend on the fitness of others. But either way, he is happy to be fit and in contention as part of the squad, absorbing the home semi-final build-up.
“Mentally and physically, I feel great,” he told the Tweed Daily News yesterday. “It will be even better with another off-season under my belt.
“Definitely because of last year, going down in the last game of the season and missing all the hype of last year, I am enjoying it now and will bottle it all up and bring it out on Friday night.”
The utility forward said the players who got a chance with his injury had grabbed the opportunity with both hands and he would do the same if called upon over the next few weeks.
Belief was the word coming out of the Titans’ Centre of Excellence yesterday, with senior players saying they felt something special about the 2010 group of players.
The squad has formed a closer bond this year and the club is more than just each week’s game day team.
“We don’t have a side of just 17 players, there are 25 guys all eligible for this weekend’s game. It puts us in good stead for the coming weeks knowing that people can fall into place in the side and do the job they need to do,” O’Dwyer said.
Having grown up on the Tweed, playing junior rugby league for the Seagulls, it made O’Dwyer’s comeback through the Titans feeder club that much smoother. Steve Michaels and Murwillumbah’s Anthony Laffranchi are two other Titans who hail from the Gold Coast area and being a local, O’Dwyer can appreciate what the home semi-final means to the city.
He had to start his career at Parramatta in 2004 but was one of the first to join the Gold Coast in its inaugural year.
“It is great for the Gold Coast to have a team in contention for the premiership.
“I have grown up here on the Coast, a couple of us have ... it really means something to us.”
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