Not many positives about the Titans this year, as they disappointed yet again and saw another coach sacked.
2019 Club Record
Competition Points: 10
2019 Player Achievements
Most Tries: Dale Copley – 9
Most Points: Michael Gordon – 66
Expectations weren’t exactly high to begin with, but the Titans were somehow still disappointing in every way. Four losses to start the season was bad but not even the worst of it, with another four-game losing streak and then an eleven-game losing streak to run through to the end of the season. The last game the Titans won in 2019 was the 26-18 win over the Broncos all the way back in June.
There was some injury concerns with Ryan James going down with a ruptured ACL in round six and Jai Arrow missing significant time with an ankle injury. With the Titans’ two most important forwards spending time off the field, it was always going to be a mammoth task to push for the finals. Ash Taylor spent the majority of the season sitting out with personal issues while Tyrone Roberts, Nathan Peats and Michael Gordon all dealt with their own injuries. That’s a lot of experience (and salary cap) not playing, however the Titans had pretty good depth in those positions and should have still been somewhat competitive. It seemed to a lot of us watching that the effort simply wasn’t there.
The Titans had an eventful pre-season with big name signings Tyrone Peachey, Shannon Boyd, Ryley Jacks, Roberts and Brian Kelly. That’s a lot of quality players and it was expected to give the Titans a huge boost, however none really lived up to their price tag, except Kelly who was one of the Titans’ best all season after coming over from Manly. There was a lot of conjecture on whether Peachey was going to try to backflip on his deal, but the Titans publicly dug their heels in and he played, although he was a shadow of the Origin player he was in 2018. Boyd was another huge signing (literally) and failed to really make an impact and finished the season on the bench. Roberts came back from the Super League and it was thought he could be the one to get his mate Ash Taylor to his best, but with Ash dealing with his personal issues, and Tyrone also in and out of the team (dealing with his own injuries), he never really got a chance. Jacks was a victim of the chopping and changing and never really had a chance to get settled, although he certainly wasn’t bad. Word is that he won’t be re-signed.
Garth Brennan had success as a coach for the lower grades in Penrith, but never really made a big impact at NRL level. He was sacked after the round 17 loss to the Panthers and finished his tenure at the club with just 12 wins from 40 games. There were question marks over his recruitment after the new signings were disappointing to start the season, but in my opinion the most confusing coaching decision he made was his use of AJ Brimson. AJ had an incredible rookie season and would have been a contender for Rookie Of The Year had he made his debut earlier in the season. He was electric when filling in at fullback (his preferred position), but this year he started the season in the halves before moving to the bench and getting time at fullback only when Michael Gordon was out injured. While Gordon is indeed a dependable fullback and great goal kicker, questions must be asked if it was worth moving Brimson around all season rather than give him the fullback role in 2019 when Gordon was there to mentor him. Hopefully AJ sorts his haircut out before round one next year, because it is not great.
Incoming coach Justin Holbrook has a very tough job in front of him after a successful stint coaching in Super League. The salary cap is messy and the roster needs a clean out. Tough decisions will have to be made and surely there is some senior players who will be told they can look elsewhere or risk spending 2020 in the Intrust Super Cup. Mal Meninga needs to take some more control over the next few years. A rebuild is a must and it might be another rough few years for us poor Titans fans. Priority number one is sorting out what to do with Jai Arrow, who is undoubtedly one of the best young forwards in the game, and has been given permission to test himself on the open market before deciding his future. The Titans would love to keep him, but they have a lot of money tied up in players who are under-performing.
NothingButLeague Player of the Season
A shining light for the Titans this season was the emergence of Moeaki Fotuaika. He played 16 games last year, but with the injuries to key forwards this year he had a much bigger role. He started on the bench but was promoted to the starting lineup early on. His minutes steadily increased throughout the year and his impact progressed along with it. From round 6 until round 25 he passed 100 run metres every game with some high tackle counts thrown in too. He’s still only 19 years old and no doubt has a big future ahead of him. The Titans realised the potential and re-signed him until 2022.
2019 GAINS AND LOSSES
Tanah Boyd (mid-2019 transfer – Brisbane Broncos 2021)
Kallum Watkins (mid-2019 transfer – Leeds Rhinos)
Sam Stone (Newcastle Knights 2020)
Moeaki Fotuaika (2022)
Jai Whitbread (2021)
Darius Farmer (2021)
Michael Gordon (retired)
Jesse Arthars (Brisbane Broncos)
Max King (mid-2019 season transfer – Melbourne Storm)