How will the Titans backup this year?

Gold Coast TitansBy most accounts they did a good job of their inaugural NRL year in 2007, showing some great signs for the future and only just falling short of a historic finals birth. This year the Gold Coast Titans will be looking to build on their strong platform from last year and with the addition of a new purpose built Stadium at Robina they will have plenty of advantages on their side. Their biggest problem in 2007 came from poor depth, an understandable one considering they haven’t had an eternity to build a complete squad. Ultimately finishing 12th, they certainly punched above their weight and took some big scalps along the way.

No doubt, only a semi-final birth will be the goal for coach John Cartwright and his team, with solid acquisitions and a stunning new stadium sure to see increased turnouts by the Titans fans in what will become solid Rugby League heartland. The Gold Coast have boosted their halves depth with new buy Ashley Harrison, and coach  Cartwright will be keen to use explosive rookies Shannon Walker and Will Matthews should injury bite the main squad this season.

If the Titans can improve their ability to travel, then this will go along way to helping them into the big time in September.

Advantages:

The Titans barring injury should have a lot more depth this year with added quality amongst their playing ranks, with some impressive new signings making the move to the growing holiday strip. The Titans inaugural season was interrupted badly by a huge injury toll to key forwards, with only captain Luke Bailey and James Stosic at one point the only available prop forwards in the club.

Thanks to smart recruiting, the Titans now have the enviable problem of competition for positions in most positions, with John Cartwright having to work out who to leave out of a blistering backline. The Gold Coast have speed to burn on the flanks, with new signings Ben Jeffery, Brenton Bowen and Esi Tonga set to challenge the likes of Chris Walker, Mat Rogers, Matthew Petersen, Preston Campbell and rookie Shannon Walker for starting spots.

Concerns:

While the Titans have the luxury of a new home ground at Robina which is set to become a solid home fortress for the club, the NRL’s newest club will have to learn to win on the road if they want to challenge for a semi-final position. The Gold Coast could only manage a disappointing two wins outside of Queensland in 2007, which ultimately saw them finish just two competition points outside of a Top 8 finish.

Gold Coast Titans likely 2008 Starting Squad:

1- Chris Walker
2- Brenton Bowen
3- Mat Rogers
4- Luke O’Dwyer
5- Matt Petersen
6- Preston Campbell
7- Scott Prince
8- Luke Bailey
9- Nathan Friend
10- Brad Meyers
11- Anthony Laffranchi
12- Mark Minichiello
13- Ashley Harrison

14- Gavin Cooper
15- Luke Swain
16- Aaron Cannings
17– Michael Hodgson

2008 Trial / Pre-Season Matches:

16/02/08 v Canberra Raiders @ Briggs Rd Sporting Complex, Ipswich
23/02/08 v North QLD Cowboys @ Barlow Park, Cairns
01/03/08 v Wests Tigers @ Skilled Stadium, Robina

2008 Player Acquisitions and Departures:

Acquisitions:

Ashley Harrison (Sydney Roosters), Billy Ngawini and Esi Tonga (Canterbury), Aaron Cannings (Parramatta), Brenton Bowen (North QLD), Ben Jeffery (Wests Tigers), Matt Cross (Penrith)

Departures:

Richie Mathers (Wigan), David Myles (retired), Matt Hilder (Newcastle), Jake Webster (Hull), Lelea Paea (released)

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