Russell: Oz stars are fitter

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YOUNG gun Matt Russell reckons the NRL players are “much fitter” than in England.

The 19-year-old left the Warriors at the end of last season after being offered a two-year deal by Gold Coast Titans.

An elusive full-back, he scored a hat-trick on his Wigan debut and in total made eight Super League appearances in 2012.

He is now deep into pre-season training with the Titans and has noticed a difference in standard.

“I think the lads are much fitter and stronger, and faster,” he told the Gold Coast Bulletin newspaper yesterday.

“There’s better skills on the field as well because they get good weather.”

Russell was offered a new deal by Wigan, but rejected their offer when the Gold Coast came knocking.

Coaches at the Queensland outfit had been alerted by his eye-catching displays while on a successful six-match loan stint at Hull FC.

And with his career-path at the Warriors blocked by the seemingly immovable presence of Sam Tomkins in the No.1 shirt, Russell decided to take the plunge.

He hopes exposure to the Australian game will help propel him to a higher standard.

“I was behind Sam back home and he’s the best player in the league by far,” Russell said.

“I had an opportunity to go other places or to go on loan next season in England but I just thought I could come here and get massive experience from it.

“I’ll still only be 21 in two years’ time, there could be other options by then, maybe a new deal, so we’ll just see what happens.”

Russell is expected to start the 2013 campaign in the Titans’ Under-20s or at a club in the lower-tier Queensland Cup, as he hunts an NRL chance.

“If I’m killing it in the 20s, then obviously I’d like to be playing at a higher level,” added Russell.”