Gold Coast Titans: 2018 season preview
Realsport glares into the crystal ball to analyse the upcoming season for the Gold Coast Titans.
Oh, Titans, here we are again, the glitter strip club is coming into 2018 on the back of another bottom four finish, another superstar player that left the club in the lurch and another season tagged with the ambiguous word “rebuilding.” Like the mother of a misbehaving kid we look at the Titans and ask “what are we going to do with you?” Well, the answer is, fortunately, not to put them out of their misery, with the clubs ownership being awarded to local business people Darryl Kelly and Rebecca Frizelle as opposed to the re-branding option presented by selling the club out to the North Sydney Bears. And so the Titans live to fight another day, which is more than can be said for Neil Henry’s coaching career.
However, as beaten down and battled as the Titans seem to be following the train wreck that was their 2017 campaign there is a glimmer of hope. The club finally has a new local owner, a new coach with a sublime resume from the lower grades and a few handy signings. The clubs depth has vastly improved and overall presents a stronger-looking roster. Optimistically, it’d be nice to say the Titans will be able to pick themselves up off the ground and return to playing some good football, but things aren’t that simple. 2018 presents the closest looking competition we’ve seen, although Rugby League is a sport won through effort, it may take a replica of their miraculous 2016 campaign for the Titans to taste any kind of glory in 2018.
With Jarryd Hayne returning to Parramatta with his tail between his legs the Titans were left short of a first grade quality fullback, however, the quick signing of Michael Gordon on a 2-year deal soon filled the gap left at the back.
The Coast appear to have learned from their injury-plagued 2017 season and have added depth to their backs with the signings of Brenko Lee and Brendan Elliot. As well as pinching Broncos enforcer Jai Arrow from up the M1.
Interestingly, the Titans have been able to snare Penrith duo Mitch Rein and Leilani Latu thanks to their relationship to coach, Garth Brennan. Latu’s signing, in particular, proving important with the sudden retirement of recruit Brenton Lawrence.
Signings: Jai Arrow (Brisbane Broncos, 2020), Brendan Elliot (Newcastle Knights, 2018), Moeaki Fotuaika (2021), Michael Gordon (Sydney Roosters, 2019), Keegan Hipgrave (Brisbane Broncos, 2018), Leilani Latu (Penrith Panthers, 2020), Brenton Lawrence (Manly Sea Eagles, 2018), Brenko Lee (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, 2018), Mitch Rein (Penrith Panthers, 2018), Jack Stockwell (Newcastle Knights, 2018)
The Titans have lost their million-dollar superstar Jarryd Hayne, and yet, they almost look stronger for it. For any other club to lose a marquee player on a $1.2 million contract it would be devastating, but yet the feel amongst Titans fans isn’t one of sadness, it’s if anything, one of happiness. Recruit Michael Gordon is more than capable of filling the fullback role in the short term and the Titans have a million-dollar war chest left to recruit with.
One thing the Titans may miss though is experience. With Chris McQueen, William Zillman and Tyrone Roberts all having left the club the Titans are among the most inexperienced in the competition and that’ll prove a test for their rookie coach.
Losses: Tyler Cornish (released), Chris Grevsmuhl (released), Jarryd Hayne (Parramatta Eels), Chris McQueen (Wests Tigers), Ben Nakubuwai (Salford Red Devils), Agnatius Paasi (New Zealand Warriors), Nathaniel Peteru (Leeds Rhinos), Leivaha Pulu (New Zealand Warriors), Tyrone Roberts (Warrington Wolves), Dan Sarginson (Wigan Warriors), Paterika Vaivai (Leigh Centurions), Daniel Vidot (retired), William Zillman (retired)
|1||Michael Gordon||10||Leilani Latu|
|2||Anthony Don||11||Ryan James|
|3||Brenko Lee||12||Kevin Proctor|
|4||Konrad Hurrell||13||Jai Arrow|
|6||Kane Elgey||14||Mitch Rein|
|7||Ashley Taylor||15||Keegan Hipgrave|
|8||Jarrod Wallace||16||Max King|
|9||Nathan Peats||17||Jack Stockwell|
*Note: Jarrod Wallace (suspension) and Anthony Don (shoulder) will not be available for round one.
After making his State of Origin debut last year Peats may well be handed the captaincy by Brennan after Ryan James struggled on his own last year. In a stop start 2017, Peats never really reached his top heights for the Titans. He’s is a quality player and the Titans need him firing and injury free in 2018.
Whilst his big money contract isn’t in effect until 2019 Taylor needs to prove why the Titans were right to back the kid. He has said publically he wants to be the best player in the game, and needs to start taking strides to become that person. As an incentive, there’s a vacant Queensland number 7 jersey and Kevin Walters has stated he has Taylor in the mix.
Due to the 2018 Commonwealth games the Titans have had to go regional for a couple of their home games to start the season. With that their opening clash with the Raiders shapes as an important one with the club not returning to their normal home venue for several weeks. It’ll be important the Titans secure a win, not only for the two competition points but for the fans on the Gold Coast.
In round 8 the Titans return to their spiritual home of Cbus Super Stadium to take on the Sharks, at this point in the year we’ll have seen if the Titans mean business or not and what better way to cement themselves as a competitive team than by once again beating the Sharks.
The Coast’s round 23 clash with Manly could prove to be a make or break match. With the Titans facing the Storm and the Cowboys in the following weeks, should the club be teetering on the edge of the top 8 this will be an important match to win with significantly tough opponents in the final games of the regular season.
So there’s the 2018 Titans, bruised, battered, but still here. The host of personnel changes could be exactly what the club needs to propel themselves back into finals football, but it’s going to be hard, very hard. Can they do it? Most would say no, but the Titans have proven in the past not to write off the underdog. Where there’s life there’s hope. 8th-12th.