Gold Coast Titans: Their best 17 ever
Continuing RealSport’s special series; we start a debate about who the best 17 ever are for the Gold Coast Titans.
The Titans are the newest club in the NRL and thus will probably have one of the weakest teams in this series, but that’s not to say they would be easy beats! The names listed below are all good players and would give plenty of other ‘Best 17’ teams a run for their money.
Picking players across eras is never an exact science. An author can do all the research in the world and still never be 100% sure about the selections put forward. Sure, there are some certainties for every team of this nature, but let this not end the debate; let it start one.
The main criteria is that each player has been selected on the strength of their performances for the club in question (not representative football and not for other clubs). They may have only been at the club for a short time, but if they’ve made The Best 17 Ever, it’s because of the undeniable quality they produced during that time.
So let the debate begin!
1. Preston Campbell (2007-2011)
After making his first grade debut with the Gold Coast Chargers in 1998, it seemed fitting that Campbell returned to the Gold Coast to be a foundation player for the Titans. Campbell was a Dally M winner and a Premiership winner, and his skills and experience were integral to the Titans establishing themselves in their first seasons.
2. David Mead (2009-2016)
The young man from Papua New Guinea who made it big in the NRL; Mead is the leading try scorer for the club with 67 tries. Mead is genuinely quicksilver and proved himself to be a good winger when bringing his team out of trouble and also in defence, saving numerous tries across his career.
3. Mat Rogers (2007-2011)
Rogers was a prized-recruit from Rugby Union for the Titans’ first season and split most of his time between the centres and five-eighth. Rogers was a supreme talent in attack, with the footwork and passing skills to present his speedy winger with room to move. He was an excellent goalkicker as well.
4. William Zillman (2009-2017)
Zillman, unfortunately, had a career punctuated by injuries, but at his best, he was as quick as anyone in the squad and was a reliable player across numerous backline positions. He was the club captain in 2016 as they made an unlikely run into the finals.
5. Kevin Gordon (2009-2015)
For a period earlier in this decade, the Titans had the most exciting wingers in the game, because of their genuine speed and ability to finish a try. Mead was one; Gordon the other. A foot-race between the two would have been interesting; we suspect that Gordon might have had Mead by a nose.
6. Ash Taylor (2016-Current)
Selected slightly out of position here, we’ve decided that Taylor would be the best option for the Titans team we’ve assembled here. It’s slightly speculative, but in his time at the club he has proven that he has the ability to lead the club around the park and that he has exquisite passing and kicking skills. At just 23, the future is bright for Taylor and if we revisit this list in 10 years, he may just have usurped Prince in the halfback role.
7. Scott Prince (Captain) (2007-2012)
A Co-captain in their first season, Prince is one of the most gifted players to play for the Titans. His speed and footwork were obvious early in his career, but by the time he arrived at the Titans he had proven himself as a leader and as a game manager, with an excellent short kicking game.
8. Luke Bailey (2007-2014)
Bailey was an established representative player when he was signed to be a Co-captain for the Titans in their inaugural season, and he didn’t disappoint, giving 8 seasons of excellent service. Bailey played 15 Origins across his career and was renowned for never shirking the tough stuff and having an excellent work rate.
9. Nathan Friend (2007-2011 & 2016)
Renowned for his work rate and his superhuman fitness levels, Friend came to the Gold Coast in their first season searching for an opportunity to be a first grade hooker (he was stuck behind someone named Cameron Smith in Melbourne). He played 242 games in the NRL and you can bet that he left nothing in the tank in any of those matches.
10. Ryan James (2010-Current)
After being named in the second row in the NYC team of the year in 2010, Ryan James has forged a sterling career with the Titans across a variety of positions in the forward pack. James has become a leader at the club, displaying a tireless work ethic and surprising athleticism to score regular tries from close range.
11. Nate Myles (2012-2015)
Nate Myles is well known for being a tough nut, particularly at State of Origin level (where he represented Queensland 32 times). In his first season with the Titans he won the Dally M Second Rower of the year and was made a captain at the club the following year. Myles would never take a backward step.
12. Greg Bird (2010-2016)
After his controversial past, including glassing his partner during the early days of his career; Greg Bird may not have made the ‘Best 17 Blokes’ for the Titans. But, if we’re picking a team on footballing merit, Bird has to be included. He was a tough as nails back rower with the skills of a half and served the Titans well for 7 seasons.
13. Ashley Harrison (2008-2014)
Harrison claimed 15 Origin jerseys for Queensland because of his no-nonsense approach to rugby league; relentlessly throwing himself into a pile of tackles and hit ups to lay a platform for his team. A premiership-winner with the Broncos; Harrison’s experience ensured he was instrumental in setting the culture of the Titans in their formative years.
14. Mark Minichiello (2007-2014)
Mark may not be the most gifted player in his family (which is a tough ask), but no one could deny his value to the Titans during their formative years. Minichiello always worked hard and ran a beautiful line on the fringes. Minichiello has since moved to Hull F.C and has won consecutive Challenge Cups, including being named in the Dream Team in 2016.
15. Anthony Laffranchi (2007-2011)
Laffranchi was a premiership winner with the Tigers in 2005 and brought a hard-edge and skill to the Titans back row for 5 seasons. His versatility was invaluable in the forward pack and he’d serve this team with distinction.
16. Luke Douglas (2012-2016)
Douglas broke the record for most consecutive NRL games, an achievement that is quite remarkable considering he is a front rower. It’s not like he shirked any work, either; he is well-known for being a workhorse who rarely failed to lay a solid platform for his team.
17. Luke O’Dwyer (2007-2013)
O’Dwyer’s selection may shock a few readers, but we’ve selected him because of his tireless efforts across 7 seasons and for his versatility, which would serve this team well considering the size of the rest of the bench.
And that’s the team, not too bad, huh? How would they go against other teams named in this series? Do the men from the Coast have what it takes to compete with the other teams? And who did we miss? Let us know in the comments below and stay tuned for the Best 17 Ever for all the other clubs.