‘I’m not finished yet’: James issues Titans plea
A shattered Ryan James has appealed for the Titans to stand by him as the Gold Coast captain vowed to fight his way back from a third knee reconstruction.
Steeling himself for another six-to-nine-month rehabilitation, James has witnessed other NRL stars recover from multiple knee operations and says the pain of another ACL rupture will not force him into retirement.
But James needs the support of the Titans to salvage his NRL career.
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The 28-year-old is off-contract at season's end and with no opportunity to press his claims this year, James is banking on 144 games of stellar service for the Titans to clinch another deal for 2021.
"I'm hopeful the Titans will give me a new deal," said James, who was injured in a freak training mishap last week.
"At the moment, my focus is getting healthy, but in time I will sit down with the club and tell them it's not time for me to go yet.
"I will talk to the Titans at the appropriate time about what I need to do. I will do the hard yards to get back on the field with the club that has given me everything I have got.
"The first few hours (after injuring his knee) I thought, 'is that it for me?'
"But then I had this turning point. I was at the end of my street and you can see Cbus Super Stadium (Titans home ground) from my place and my son Carter said, 'Dad, there's your stadium, let's go watch you play'.
"That reinforced to me that I'm still too young to retire. I'm only 28 and other players have had far worse injuries than me and come back.
"Retirement is not on the cards."
The NSW Origin hopeful has not played for the Titans since April 21 last year, when he snapped the ACL in his right knee against Newcastle. It was his second reconstruction after his left knee buckled in 2011.
Initially gutted at the thought of not playing for almost two years, James quickly found perspective watching the evening news.
"It was pretty shattering to see the tear because I didn't think I had done it again when I first went down," James said.
"I was sad and sorry for the first 24 hours, then I got home and saw the tragic story of that couple in Sydney who had their three kids killed by a drunk driver (last week).
"That kicked my butt into gear pretty quick.
"Watching that I thought, 'It's only my knee. Who cares?' I haven't lost my children. My two young boys are happy and healthy so I've got perspective.
"Life goes on. I know I've got some hard days coming up but I'm ready for it. I'll pick myself back up and play again."
James will go under the knife in a fortnight and has been inspired by unexpected phone calls from other NRL players who have fought back from knee reconstructions.
"I've had some really great support from the NRL. Tautau Moga (Newcastle centre) reached out to me. He has had four knee recos and he's still playing," he said.
"Sandor Earl (Melbourne winger) has been another one, he went through his own tough times. I don't know either guy so for Tautau and Sandor to call me meant a lot.
"I've come too far not to help the club succeed. I've been with the Titans since my teens so in 2021 I want to be out there with the boys.
"I've read a yarn saying I have to take a pay cut and the reality is I haven't played footy for two years. I won't be going in asking for a pay rise.
"Hopefully we can come to some sort of agreement because I love the club and can't imagine myself anywhere else."