Maturity and a happy life away from the field were the key ingredients that helped Jamal Fogarty secure an NRL contract with the Gold Coast Titans.
A dual premiership winner with the Essential Coffee Burleigh Bears and the reigning Petero Civoniceva Medallist for Intrust Super Cup player of the year, the 26-year-old halfback has never been more prepared to make his mark in the NRL.
“I think it’s just maturity, to be honest,” Fogarty said when asked why he is more equipped to play NRL now than in 2017 when he made two appearances for the Titans.
“When I was younger people used to say, ‘you get more mature as you get a bit older’ and at the time I didn’t really believe it. But now that I am that bit older, I just have the understanding and have that self-belief.
“It’s about knowing your role, knowing what you can do and understanding game-management. Should I kick now? Do I kick a little bit later? Do we need to speed things up or do I need to kick the ball into touch to give my teammates a rest?
“I think it’s about knowing how Jamal Fogarty plays football and how he plays his best football and understanding that and having that inner confidence to be able to do it.”
Fogarty is one of only nine players in Bears history to win multiple Intrust Super Cup premierships and credits his four seasons at Burleigh for helping him develop into the player he needed to become to get another shot at the NRL.
He was also quick to praise the love and support of his wife Kahlia and said his happiness at home was as important as anything else driving him towards success on the field.
“If it wasn’t for the Burleigh Bears, I wouldn’t have the opportunity that I have at the moment,” he said.
“My teammates at Burleigh make my job very easy. They understand how I play, and we work hard for one another, but I don’t think any of it is possible without my wife at home who looks after me and my little girls. I think she deserves all the credit because if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be the happy person I am playing footy in a good headspace.”
Negotiations between Fogarty and the Gold Coast commenced in the days after Burleigh’s 18-16 trial win on February 21.
Exactly two weeks later the deal was signed, and he fronted up for his first day of training as a Titan on March 9.
At the Titans he will reunite with dual premiership winning Bears coach Jimmy Lenihan, who was unveiled as Gold Coast assistant coach late last year.
“I think Jimmy Lenihan knows my game better than I know it myself,” Fogarty said.
“He gave me a fresh footy brain and some fresh footy eyes and was able to help me see what I was good at. Jimmy understands how each individual plays and the way he brings the best out of each individual is a credit to him. I absolutely love working with Jimmy.”
Under the terms of his contract, which will see him listed as a development squad player in 2020 before moving into the senior playing squad in 2021, Fogarty will not be available for NRL selection until after June 30.
It means that while he will train fulltime with the Titans, Bears fans will get to see Jamal for at least the first 14 rounds of the Intrust Super Cup season before he becomes eligible for selection in the NRL.
“It gives me a bit of time to understand the Titans and what they’re trying to do,” he said. “It will help me learn attacking structures and defensive structures and also just help me get to know guys that I don’t know and build those combinations.
“It’s good that I’ll get a bit of time for those kinds of things, but also it gives me a chance to keep playing at Burleigh with all those boys who I am really close with and rip into the season. The best way to approach it is rip in at Burleigh, try to put some good performances together and we’ll see how it pans out from there.”
Burleigh open their season as defending premiers with a grand final rematch against Wynnum Manly Seagulls at 12.10pm this Sunday at Pizzey Park.