Raiders back-rower Josh Papalii against the Titans.

Papalii not focusing on new-look Titans

Canberra Raiders enforcer Josh Papalii is anticipating a fired up Gold Coast Titans ahead of their season opener this Sunday at Cbus Super Stadium. 

It is a fresh start for the boys from the glitter strip, with coach Garth Brennan set to lead around a team that has been completely overhauled.

The departure of Jarryd Hayne has seen the club sign Bryce Cartwright, Michael Gordon, Jai Arrow, Brendan Elliot, Mitch Rein, Leilani Latu, Brenko Lee and Will Matthews.

Seven recruits have been selected in the 21-man squad for Sunday's game and winger Anthony Don has also been named after undergoing a shoulder reconstruction in the off-season.

However, none of that matters to Papalii, who said the club is worrying only about their own fate this year.

"I think every team is going to come out firing be ready for round one and no doubt the Titans will be the same," Papalii told NRL.com.

"Our focus is on what we can do and what we have, not all of the other clubs."

Plenty has been made of Papalii's weight this pre-season, with the Samoan international admitting he returned to Canberra post World Cup out of shape.

That quickly changed through a series of punishing pre-season cardio sessions, which saw the 25-year-old slim down after at one stage tipping the scales at 128kg.

Canberra Raiders back-rower Josh Papalii.
Canberra Raiders back-rower Josh Papalii. ©NRL Photos.

Papalii was quick to add he won't lose any of the physicality which has been his trademark in recent seasons.

"Sticky (coach Ricky Stuart) has just been a bit stricter this year, we have this policy it's just black or white, you're in or your out," he said.

"I have dropped a few after the Samoan camp, I came back at about 128kg and I was a bit overweight and to be honest I wasn't training much and eating and drinking too much, but I've got that all under control now.

"I think won't lose that (physical) side of footy, I like making those big hits and making the big runs and that side of footy, that will always remain the same."

Canberra has sought to add competition for spots again in its 2018 squad, something that was a hallmark of their campaign two years ago which saw them go all the way to the preliminary final.

It's that rivalry, even for an international star such as Papalii, which has seen him push towards achieving even greater things in 2018.

 "I've got a few young fellas at my heels at the moment, pushing me to my maximum," he said.  

"I have got internationals beside me as well with Joseph (Tapine) and Elliott (Whitehead)...we are all training together and training hard."

Canberra Raiders back-rower Josh Papalii.
Canberra Raiders back-rower Josh Papalii. ©Scott Davis / NRL Photos

Another international player to keep an eye on this season, according to Papalii is Junior Paulo, who also has put in the hard yards after the World Cup.

He has been rewarded by Stuart, with Paulo named to start against the Titans this weekend.

"I think he (Paulo) can go to another level this year," Papalii said.

The teams only faced each other once in 2017, with the Raiders walking away with a huge win, thumping the Titans 42-16.