James charged with leading Titans revival
RYAN James' first season as Gold Coast Titans captain was a perfect storm of losing games, the Jarryd Hayne circus and Neil Henry's sacking.
James questioned his own leadership credentials and whether he was up to the job as the Titans slumped to second-last spot on the NRL ladder.
But it is those hard lessons learned which James believes has primed him for a second crack at the role.
New Titans coach Garth Brennan appointed James as his sole captain for the 2018 NRL season.
James, a Gold Coast product, said he would be a better captain following his experiences from 2017.
"It was tough and everything that happened on and off the field made it a little bit tougher," he said.
"I've had the experience of it. I feel like I've come out better for it. Hopefully that was the toughest part of it and it gets a little bit easier from here on in.
"I'm working on building good relations with people, referees and making sure everything I do in the community and footy field is up to scratch."
James, 26, and wife Ana are expecting their second child this week, meaning the newly minted captain will miss his first engagement at Thursday's NRL season launch in Sydney.
Having played 115 NRL games since debuting in 2010, James is an experienced campaigner entering his ninth season of first grade.
When he arrived at the club to replace Henry last year, Brennan said he would assess potential captaincy candidates before deciding who would lead the club.
What he observed over the past four months left him with no doubt that James deserved to retain the role.
"He epitomises what the Gold Coast Titans are about," Brennan said.
"He's a Gold Coast local, he loves the club and is passionate about it.
"He is a talented footballer, has the respect of his peers and ticks all the boxes for what a captain is.
"Ryan is a quality footballer and quality person. That's what this club is about."
James started 2017 as a co-captain with Kevin Proctor before the Kiwi Test star was stripped of the duty following a drugs scandal.
James will look to the likes of Proctor, Nathan Peats and Michael Gordon for guidance this season and said he still had plenty to learn.
"I'm honoured and proud to be the sole captain this year but I'll lean on a few guys in the team who I talk to a lot," he said.
"I don't like to go out there and say too much to the boys.
"If Peatsy, Kevvie or Flash says something then that's what goes. They've got the respect of their peers as well.
"I'm still learning. You can never stop improving."
The Titans will officially launch their season on Tuesday night.