Ricky’s NRL Previews Pt 5: Gold Coast Titans

After the 2017 season they had, 2018 cannot be any worse for the Gold Coast Titans, right? Their fans will hope not but they have recruited well as they look to make amends in 2018.

Despite some solid, astute buys, many opposition fans still have the Titans as potential spoon contenders. Under new coach Garth Brennan, they will be looking to avoid that likelihood.

Stairway to Brennan

A new coach can mean anything in the NRL. Good form, poor form, some consistency but not always. In his first major coaching position as an NRL level coach, Garth Brennan was a man touted for such honours even a few years back.

His track record speaks for itself as he led numerous Penrith Panthers sides across the lower grades to several titles. A major talking point from his successes was the way in which players spoke of him. Of his ability to extract the best of their talents and of every player being painted with the same brush.

Although he is new to the NRL coaching world, that sort of relationship with players is often exactly what they are looking for. In a team that has struggled in years past to find any sort of cohesion, Brennan’s arrival could be the kick in the backside they need to be consistent.

The Chosen One

Ash Taylor. A young half full of promise, potential and hope, shapes as the key figure to lead the Titans to the promised land. Of course, that is no easy feat given the stern test that each side presents but he represents the Titans best chance to do so.

Bursting onto the scene a couple of years ago at the Brisbane Broncos, there were faint glimmers there before he was injured in his first game.
Fast-forward to his time at the Titans and you now have a cool, collected and composed young half who could be on his way to reaching the NRL elite for halves.

Although he has some way to go to reach such magnitudes, his progression and ability to perform on a struggling side is something worth noting. He looms as the man that he is going to lead the Titans and he will have no better chance to do it than under the tutelage of new coach Garth Brennan.

With something to prove to himself, his new coach and the Titans fans, Taylor is in line to have a big year. Pressure comes with potential success, though; is he ready for that added pressure? Or will he struggle to deal with it as the season progresses?

A Rebuilding Time?

In the modern day of rugby league, a new coach often signifies a rebuild. The question is; just how much of a rebuild do the Titans need?
In recent years, having lost the likes of David Mead, Greg Bird, David Taylor, Nate Myles, Luke Bailey and several others, finding quality replacements have been, at times, hard to do at the Titans, thus drawing the ire of fans.

As they reshape their squad around several young players in their side now such as Ashley Taylor, Kane Elgey, Max King and other budding first-grade hopefuls in Phillip Sami and AJ Brimson, the Titans are building a good, young core.

As you do with any side, though, ensuring a balance between the young and old, inexperienced and experienced is equally crucial. Achieving such methods as you seek out the right players makes that task difficult but Titans fans are optimistic that the side can add those necessary pieces.

Gains and Losses

Gains: Jai Arrow & Keegan Hipgrave (both Brisbane Broncos). Brendan Elliott and Jack Stockwell (both Newcastle Knights). Moeaki Fotuaika (re-signed), Michael Gordon (Sydney Roosters), Leilani Latu & Mitch Rein (both Penrith Panthers). Brenton Lawrence (Manly Sea Eagles) & Brenko Lee (Canterbury Bulldogs).

Losses: Tyler Cornish, Chris Grevsmuhl, Jarryd Hayne, Chris McQueen, Ben Nakubuwai, Agnatius Paasi, Nathaniel Peteru, Leivaha Pulu, Tyrone Roberts, Dan Sarginson, Paterika Vaivai, Daniel Vidot & William Zillman.

Player To Watch

With some uncertainty still surrounding the true make-up of their halves, the Titans have a talented prospect waiting in the wings should they choose to go down that path.

In the past, Garth Brennan has shown that he is not afraid to give young kids opportunities at higher levels and many are excited at the prospect of AJ Brimson.

Brimson, a talented half, was impressive for the Titans in the 2017 Holden Cup season, and put his talents on show every week, catching the eye of fans, the Titans coaching staff and other suitors.

Although Elgey and Taylor are the likely halves duo to start the season, Brimson’s named will continue to come up at the Titans and across media outlets, particularly if one or both is not performing as they should.

Predicted Line-Up

  1. Michael Gordon
  2. Anthony Don
  3. Konrad Hurrell
  4. Dale Copley
  5. Brenko Lee
  6. Kane Elgey
  7. Ashley Taylor
  8. Leilani Latu
  9. Nathan Peats
  10. Jarrod Wallace
  11. Ryan James
  12. Kevin Proctor
  13. Joe Greenwood

14. Mitch Rein
15. Max King
16. Morgan Boyle
17. Keegan Hipgrave

Coach: Garth Brennan.

 

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