A NSW Origin call may loom for Ryan James after the Gold Coast bench forward inspired the Titans’ upset 30-18 NRL win over Wests Tigers on Saturday night.
Titans coach Neil Henry hailed James as the catalyst to their fifth straight home win, sparking a remarkable turnaround after the highly fancied visitors jumped to a 10-0 lead in just 15 minutes.
And Henry believed NSW coach Laurie Daley would have also approved.
James was called up to train as part of an extended NSW squad in an Origin camp last May.
Henry believed the towering forward may have another taste this year.
“Every year his name get tossed up,” he said.
“If he keeps improving and his form is good, Laurie will certainly look at him.
“I know Laurie does rate him.”
James amassed 156m off the bench and scored in the 53rd minute as the Titans defied humid conditions to snap the Wests Tigers’ unbeaten season start after trailing 10-6 at halftime.
“I just try to play like that every week,” James said.
“I wouldn’t mind starting. Front or second row doesn’t worry me.”
Asked about creating an Origin buzz, James said: “It’s a bit early for that, (but) everyone dreams of Origin.”
At one stage the Gold Coast ran in four tries in 17 minutes as the hosts turned a 10-0 deficit into a 30-10 lead.
“Ryan James really lifted the tempo,” Henry said.
“We are seeing a more controlled game from him – there’s less penalties and there’s better defence, more discipline.
“Vaha (Pulu) had a lot of energy too.
“We were tanking a bit defensively but when those two came on we had spark.
“Our bench did a really good job in changing momentum for us.”
At first, nothing seemed to be able to stop the Wests Tigers juggernaut.
Centre Kevin Naiqama bagged a double in the opening 15 minutes.
But Naiqama had to wait until the 77th minute for his third as a James-inspired Titans ensured the Wests Tigers’ 400th game was not one to celebrate.
The Titans did their best to keep James Tedesco in check although the NSW fullback hopeful still managed 156m and two try assists.
“Tedesco is a freak. You almost stand there and wait to see what he does, but then it’s too late,” James said.
“With players like that you have to get into their face.”
Wests Tigers backrower Chris Lawrence was placed on report for a 26th minute dangerous tackle on James.