No more excuses for the Gold Coast Titans, now is the time they need to take the next step and become contenders.
Up there with the Cowboys and the Knights, the Titans have had a very successful recruitment process for the upcoming season. With their young players still showing great potential, now is the time for them to turn that potential into consistent performances to get back into the finals for just the third time in the last 10 years.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Shannon Boyd (Canberra Raiders – 2022)
Tyrone Roberts (Warrington Wolves – 2020)
Tyrone Peachey (Penrith Panthers – 2021)
Ryley Jacks (Melbourne Storm – 2019)
Brian Kelly (Manly Sea Eagles – 2021)
Kane Elgey (Manly Sea Eagles)
Karl Lawnton (New Zealand Warriors)
Brendan Elliot (Manly Sea Eagles)
Ryan Simpkins (retired)
WHAT TO EXPECT
For the last few seasons the Titans have been fairly disappointing, with poor on field results being at the forefront, all the while dealing with the Daly Cherry-Evans backflip and the Hayne Plane dramas. While we undoubtedly got some great young talent in Ash Taylor, Jai Arrow, Jarrod Wallace, Ryan James and the emergence of AJ Brimson, it is time for the Titans to start to take a step towards an eventual premiership rather than another bottom four finish (which has happened eight times in twelve seasons). With great recruitment for 2019, a new contract to rookie coach Garth Brennan, new sponsors and the club finally breaking even, there is reason for fans to expect improvement in 2019.
The time is now for Ash Taylor to finally put it all together. He’s had high expectations since he came over from the Broncos, but the difference between his good games and is bad games is too much. He possesses one of the best short kicking games in the competition and is always high on the ladder for try assists, but it feels like his development has stalled due to lack of consistency with a halves partner. While he was in the discussion as an option of playing for Queensland in 2018, it seemed to bring a decline in his form after losing out to Daly Cherry-Evans. By all accounts he has been working hard on his fitness in this offseason as well as working with Matthew Johns.
Shannon Boyd coming from Canberra is great for the Titans, as it has felt like they are a little light in the forward pack without a big angry prop, which is exactly what Boyd will be. The team will now boast an underrated forward pack with QLD starters Jarrod Wallace and Jai Arrow, Kiwi back rower Kevin Proctor, ex-origin hooker Nathan Peats, big Shannon Boyd and fringe NSW player Ryan James, who has been the Titans’ best forward weapon for a few years now.
Tyrone Peachey created some controversy not so long ago when there was doubt over whether he would actually honour his three-year deal, however that all looks to be settled now with the NSW bench utility training with the squad. The main question mark around Tyrone is where does Brennan play him? He is very versatile and could fit into the halves, centres or the back row, however the bench utility role seems to be locked up with back up hooker Mitch Rein having a great 2018 and providing much needed spark off the bench.
Tyrone Roberts is in my opinion the most significant signing the Titans have made. When he came to the club in 2016 he was an integral part of making he finals despite most of the attention going on Jarryd Hayne. Tyrone played five eighth, halfback, hooker, centre, off the bench and in the forward pack at various stages throughout the season to cover injuries. It is quite well known he is great mates with Ash Taylor and they certainly complemented each other well as a halves pairing, so one would assume he is absolutely a good chance of joining Taylor in the halves.
One of the more curious signings the club made was Ryley Jacks. While he is a great young player with a lot of first grade experience after a few years at the Melbourne Storm playing with some of the best in the game, it just seemed like a strange decision to sign him given that Peachey and Roberts were already on their way. It is a great thing to have depth in important positions, surely all these new signings can’t make the top 17.
While he isn’t a new signing, AJ Brimson had a fantastic rookie year last year and won games on his own at the back end of the season when he was covering at fullback for the injured Michael Gordon. Gordon has signed on for one more year, which would appear to be his last season of a great career. As one of the most experienced fullbacks in the comp, he has also made it clear that he is more than happy to share the role to mentor the young guys who are transitioning from playing on the wing. In a lot of the articles I’ve seen with predicted round one lineups, none seem to mention Gordon, but don’t be surprise if you see him named on the wing and Brimson named at fullback.
Going by last year’s results, the Titans only face four of the 2018 top eight teams in the first 10 rounds, where they play the Sharks twice, the Panthers and the Rabbitohs. In the same period they also play the Cowboys and Knights, who are both expected to finish in the top eight in 2019. One of the toughest periods will come after the round 16 bye, with games against the Panthers, Broncos, Roosters and Dragons in what could be a tough month if improvements aren’t made from last season.
Top Tryscorer – AJ Brimson
Top Pointscorer – Ash Taylor
Club Player of the Year – Ryan James
WHERE WILL THE TITANS FINISH?