Another year ending in the bottom four for the Titans, but there is certainly effort on and off the field as they once again say “the future looks bright”.
2018 Club Record
Competition Points: 8 (14th place)
2018 Player Achievements
Paul Broughton Player of the Year: Ryan James
Most Tries: Anthony Don (15)
Most Points: Michael Gordon (132)
Coaches Award: Michael Gordon
The Preston Award: Ryan James
Members Most Valuable Player: Anthony Don
Try of the Year: Phillip Sami
Rookie of the Year: AJ Brimson
Outstanding Achievement Award: Jennifer Cross
Let me preface this by admitting that I am a Titans fan, and long time member. I’ve been a fan since they came into the competition as I live in Brisbane and can’t stand the Broncos. Life is hard sometimes, but I am in it for the long haul.
We (the fans) went into this season somewhat optimistic but not getting our hopes up after too many unsuccessful years. It feels like the Titans have at least been a little unlucky the last few seasons with the DCE backflip that really hurt our roster, the stupid mistake that cost us James Roberts, the Jarryd Hayne fiasco, the drug scandal(s) and the coaching carousel. However the simple fact of the matter is that they haven’t been playing consistent enough good football. They are really a tough team to support as one week we get belted 54-8 by the Dragons (rd 3), and the next week we have a great win over our biggest rivals the Broncos. There is always that potential there to play well over 80 minutes or even have a big comeback, but those games don’t happen enough.
We head into the season with all the pressure on Ash Taylor, as he was our main playmaker and by far our biggest attacking weapon. His halves partner for the first seven games was Kane Elgey, who was dropped for his poor form and Bryce Cartwright filled in until AJ Brimson moved into 5/8th in Round 9. Ash Taylor has so much potential and was even mentioned as a possibility of playing halfback in Origin, but he hasn’t really had too much help since he came into first grade and maybe it has hurt his development somewhat. Brimson took a bit of the pressure off by starting plays with his running game, but AJ is a fullback and won’t be 5/8 in 2019. That role will either fall to Tyrone Roberts, Tyrone Peachey or Ryley Jacks.
Jai Arrow, much like Jarrod Wallace, moved down from Brisbane to secure a starting role at the Titans. Arrow showed plenty of promise in the limited time we saw him in Brisbane, but made an immediate impact in Titans colours and earned himself an Origin jersey. A niggling Rib injury made worse after starting at Prop in Origin 3 limited his minutes and impact for the rest of the season. Arrow staying healthy and playing big minutes is what the Titans need if they want to be playing September footy in 2019.
Injuries were an issue for the Titans once again, with our Round 9 game against the Raiders having nobody left on the bench for the last part of the game. It was however through injuries this year that the club got the chance to debut some new players and give some others extra minutes. This led us to rookies Moeaki Fotuaika and Keegan Hipgrave who look to be great future players, with Hipgrave especially bringing the aggression that has been sorely lacking since Greg Bird took his career overseas. Hipgrave definitely has a problem with his discipline, if he learns to utilise his passion without making errors or giving away penalties he will be a big part of an intimidating forward pack of Jarrod Wallace and Shannon Boyd at prop, Kevin Proctor, Ryan James and Jai Arrow in the back row, and a bench rotation featuring Foruaika, Hipgrave and either Stockwell/King/Simpkins/Whitbread/Boyle. Ryan James is the heart and soul of the team with the ability to play 80 minutes either at Prop or on an edge.
There is a few question marks over what lineup Garth Brennan will be looking at next year, with Ryley Jacks, Tyrone Peachey and Tyrone Roberts all having to fit into the team somehow. I hardly see any of those players coming without at least a good chance of being in the starting 13. Assuming Brimson stays at fullback, that would push Michael Gordon to the wing. Then Anthony Don and Phillip Sami will battle it out for the other wing spot, while you have Peachey/Dale Copley/Brenko Lee competing for the centre positions, with Tyrone Roberts/Tyrone Peachey/Ryley Jacks as contenders for 5/8. Mitch Rein played well enough last year to lock down a bench spot with Nathan Peats at hooker. Unless Garth runs with two forwards on the bench with Rein coming off the bench to play hooker with Peats staying out there in the forwards, thus giving them essentially a three forward bench with a bench utility. The Titans lost Tyrone Roberts for 2018 as he was playing for Warrington, and absolutely missed his versatility shown in 2017 to play in any position he was needed. He is homesick and will be re-united with his best mate Ash Taylor, but where does he play?
NothingButLeague Player of the Season
Hard to go past the emergence of AJ Brimson, who didn’t debut until Round 9 but was a big chance of stealing the Dally M Rookie Of The Year award. After Michael Gordon went down with an arm injury late of the season Garth got to put him in his preferred position of fullback, where he finished the season with four tries in three games. A constant threat in attack with his acceleration, he was also solid defensively with an 81.6% tackle efficiency in his rookie season. Michael Gordon said he is happy to play on the wing and be a mentor to AJ at fullback and this will help the development of Brimson immensely. Gordon has been a solid player for a long time now and AJ will bring in the X factor and playmaking ability which is needed from a fullback these days. At 20 years old he is only 89kg so I can see him coming out of a full preseason with a bit more bulk.
PREDICTED 2019 LINEUP
1. AJ Brimson
2. Anthony Don
3. Phillip Sami
4. Tyrone Peachey
5. Michael Gordon
6. Ryley Jacks
7. Ash Taylor
8. Jarrod Wallace
9. Nathan Peats
10. Shannon Boyd
11. Kevin Procor
12. Ryan James (c)
13. Jai Arrow
14. Mitch Rein
15. Tyrone Roberts
16. Moeaki Fonuaki
17. Keegan Hipgrave
2019 GAINS AND LOSSES
2019 Gains: Tyrone Peachey (Panthers – 2021), Shannon Boyd (Raiders – 2022), Tyrone Roberts (Warrington – 2020), Ryley Jacks (Storm – 2019)
2019 Losses: Kane Elgey (Sea Eagles), Brendan Elliot (released), Konrad Hurrell (Leeds Rhinos)
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