As the National Rugby League season draws closer, we look at how the Gold Coast Titans will go in 2018. The expectations for the Titans are low this season, however with a rookie coach and some new recruits joining the team, it will be interesting to see how the Gold Coast performs in 2018.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Bryce Cartwright (Penrith Panthers), Leilani Latu (Penrith Panthers), Mitch Rein (Penrith Panthers), Jai Arrow (Brisbane Broncos), Michael Gordon (Sydney Roosters), Brenko Lee (Canterbury Bulldogs), Brendan Elliot (Newcastle Knights), Jack Stockwell (Newcastle Knights)
Tyler Cornish (released), Chris Grevsmuhl (released), Jarryd Hayne (Parramatta Eels), Chris McQueen (Wests Tigers), Ben Nakubuwai (Salford Red Devils), John Olive (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), 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 (released)
Raiders (H), Warriors (A), Dragons (H), Broncos (A), Manly (H)
WHAT TO EXPECT
After a poor season in 2017 in which they finished 15th, the general consensus around the rugby league community is that the Titans are more likely to challenge for the wooden spoon, rather than a spot in the top 8. The Titans squad is lacking in-depth, although the top 17 may be able to surprise some people if the Titans are able to stay healthy. Coach Garth Brennan has no experience as a head coach in the NRL, however he has an impressive record in the lower grade competitions, and his relationship with his players speaks to the quality of coach that he is. So far Cartwright, Latu and Rein have all followed him from Penrith to the Gold Coast, with Tyrone Peachey expected to join them. Brennan has also gone on record to say that the Titans will aim to throw the football around, and he will give creative players such as Ash Taylor and Cartwright the freedom to use the footy. The Titans have a strong forward pack with a handful of representative players, and their spine is more than capable of leading them to some surprise wins this season. The Gold Coast will by no means be challenging for the premiership in 2018, however if all clicks into place and the Titans can buy into coach Brennan’s game plan, I expect them to be a lot further from the bottom of the table than people expect.
Ash Taylor has shown signs of being a future representative halfback in his first 2 seasons in the NRL, and with the support of Brennan, Taylor has the potential to take his game to the next level in 2018. Brennan and Taylor have a very close relationship dating back to before Brennan’s arrival on the Gold Coast, as the coach has acted as a mentor for Taylor over the past few years. Brennan’s appointment as Titans coach lead to Taylor re-signing with the Titans for a further 4 years, and the connection between the coach and playmaker has the potential to let Taylor shine. The young halfback was leading the competition in try assists in 2017, and Taylor should get even better at setting up his team mates with the help of Brennan’s creativity and advice.
Bryce Cartwright will be looking to reignite his career with a fresh start on the Gold Coast, after some off field issues plagued his form in 2017. The former Penrith forward is one of the brightest young players in the game, with a tremendous skillset and offloading ability for a player of his size. Cartwright also has a great relationship with coach Brennan, after the two worked together during Cartwright’s stint for the Penrith under 20’s side, where he excelled. The Titans have always been missing someone with the ability to get an offload away, and the creative forward is sure to add plenty of electricity to the Gold Coast attack.
The Titans have one of the toughest draws in the competition, with multiple games against heavy weight opponents such as the Storm, Cowboys and Roosters. To make matters worse for the Titans, they will play just 1 game at their home ground until Round 8, due to the Commonwealth Games taking place on the Gold Coast. The Titans will play some of their home games in Toowoomba and Gladstone, which will help the club in attracting new fans, however the extra travel and losing the support of their home fans has the ability to hurt the Titans in the early stages of the season.
Top Tryscorer – Anthony Don
Top Pointscorer – Michael Gordon
Club Player of the Year – Ash Taylor
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