After getting the wooden spoon in 2019, the only way for the Titans to go is up. With lots of key players off contract at the end of 2020 it’s time for the struggling club to make some moves in the player market.
Do the Titans really have one? All has been a bit quiet on the signing front as poor contracts still restrict the club from splashing the cash on any available free agents. Beau Fermor looks promising and is coming up after being released by the Knights, but unfortunately he did his ACL back in August so won’t be able to get a proper preseason in. Tanah Boyd came over from the Broncos in 2019 and has a lot of potential but it’s yet to be seen how he will fit into the Titans 17.
ARRIVALS: Tanah Boyd, Erin Clark, Juwan Compain, Greg Leleisiuao, Jonus Pearson, Ione Seiuli, Toby Sexton, Sam Stone, Kallum Watkins, Beau Fermor.
Leilani Latu leaving probably benefits the team the most as he had a lot of salary cap tied up while playing QLD Cup, but losing Jesse Arthars could be a big loss as he has a very high ceiling and could be a great player. Michael Gordon has been a quality player for a long time and it’s a shame to see him go however his departure opens the door for AJ Brimson to lock down a spot in the starting 13 instead of the messy year he had in 2019 while being shuffled between fullback/halfback/five eighth/bench utility. We know that Jai Arrow will join Souths in 2021 but it remains to be seen if he is still in the club by June 30. By all accounts he will see his final year out, and I was convinced there would be some sort of player swap to release him early however the ACL injury to Ryan James means the Titans really can’t afford to let him walk.
DEPARTURES: Jesse Arthars – Broncos, Ryley Jacks – Storm, Max King – Storm, Brenko Lee – Storm, Leilani Latu – Warrington, Jaxson Paulo – Rabbitohs, Michael Gordon – retired, Will Matthews – retired
TOP 30 SQUAD: Jai Arrow, Shannon Boyd, Tannah Boyd, AJ Brimson, Bryce Cartwright, Erin Clark, Dale Copley, Anthony Don, Darius Farmer, Beau Fermor, Moeaki Fotuaika, Keegan Hipgrave, Ryan James, Brian Kelly, Greg Leleisiuao, Tyrone Peachey, Jonus Pearson, Nathan Peats, Kevin Proctor, Mitch Rein, Tyrone Roberts, Phillip Sami, Treymain Spry, Sam Stone, Ash Taylor, Jarrod Wallace, Kallum Watkins, Jai Whitbread.
SPOTS AVAILABLE: 2
DEVELOPMENT SQUAD: Kea Pere, Ioane Seiuli, Toby Sexton.
WHAT TO EXPECT
It’s hard to expect too much from the team that came last in 2019 when they have made no major signings and have a new coach. As I mentioned earlier there is a lot of big players off contract at the end of 2020 so all of those guys are playing for contracts, but likely the best thing for the Titans is a clean out of the players they paid overs for so they can aim for some big signings for 2021.
The Titans need to show the grit they have shown at points in the last few years where they prove they can push any team to the limit, but most importantly they need to bring some pride back to the jersey. There is a lot of long suffering fans (myself included) that are struggling to stay positive and support these guys when it seems like there simply isn’t a level of effort that is expected from a first grade Rugby League team.
We are not unrealistic and thinking we will win the comp this year, and frankly we will be doing extremely well to make the finals, but we need to see improvement and we need to see all the boys putting 100% in every game. Another big question mark is over Ash Taylor and what we will see from him after his time away from the game last year. Ryan James has done his ACL again in the preseason in what is another huge blow for a club that was already going to struggle.
The Titans first five games are against the Raiders (away), Eels (home), Broncos (home), Roosters (away) and Storm (away). So the wooden spooners face both grand finalists and the minor premiers away from home, plus two other teams that played Finals in 2019. Winning at least two of these games will be a big challenge but going 0-5 is simply not an option if we want to avoid another wooden spoon.
Leading Tryscorer: AJ Brimson
Leading Pointscorer: AJ Brimson
Player of 2020: Mitch Rein