2017 was a horror show for the Titans. They struggled on the back of a ridiculous run of injuries that saw them often finish with less than the original 17 men available.
They only managed to win the seven games in 2017, although two wins were over defending premiers the Sharks. Their 15th place finish saw them finish only above the three-time wooden spooners the Knights.
Conceding 638 points at over 26 points per game makes for horrible reading. It’s tough to win games when you concede over 20 points, let alone 26. They only managed to score 428 at under 18 points per game. Those numbers are never going to lead to finals footy.
The club has under gone some big changes in the off-season with Garth Brennan charged to lead the Titans revival. He has tremendous success at New South Wales cup level with Penrith and will be hoping for similar results after a big step up.
Jarryd Hayne has moved in which should take a heap of pressure off the rookie coach and should allow the young halves combination to take complete charge.
Recruitment Grading: C
On paper the Titans have lost Jarryd Hayne, Chris McQueen, Agnatius Paasi and Tyrone Roberts. I’m going to go the controversial route here and say that despite the obvious talent in those four, the Titans aren’t too badly affected. They’ve brought in the experienced, calm and seemingly ageless Michael Gordon to play fullback, Jai Arrow, Jack Stockwell and Leilani Latu to play in the forwards and have Brenko Lee to cover a centre position. Mitch Rein is a handy pick up to play off the bench if needed although I’d love to see Nathan Peats play 80 every weekend. 2017’s coupe was re-signing Ashley Taylor until the end of 2021. Huge re-signing.
Star Player: Ashley Taylor
2018 is a huge season for the ridiculously talented 22 year-old halfback. He managed a crazy 19 try assists in 2017, more than the likes of Cooper Cronk, Mitchell Pearce and Michael Morgan. His kicking game is among the best in the game despite his age. Taylor has a freakish ability to control the ball off the boot and is a master of forcing repeat sets through goal line drop outs. Injury-aside, Taylor will bring up his 50th NRL game in round three, but he plays like someone with many more games of experience under his belt. There is nothing this kid cannot do. Another off-season in the gym will only help his cause as I suspect he will be heavily targeted in both attack and defense.
NRL 2018 Wooden Spooners?
— Moylan Mania 🍍 (@suthodan) January 15, 2018
Strength: Representative level core players
Nathan Peats and Jarrod Wallace are current State of Origin representative players. Michael Gordon is a former New South Wales rep. Kevin Proctor and Konrad Hurrell have played international rugby league. There are four current rep-level players and a former Origin player. That is a brilliant core to build a side around. Ash Taylor has been touted as a future Queensland half while Ryan James look an Origin certainty two seasons ago. Anyone who says this Titans side lacks talent is mistaken. Wallace was arguably the game’s most improved player in 2017 and his return from suspension in the early rounds will be much welcomed. I expect a big season from Kevin Proctor in 2018, and Konrad Hurrell has a big pre-season under his belt and should be raring to go out wide.
Weakness: Lack of depth
I hold genuine concerns for this Titans side if there is an injury to a first 13 player. Unless the Titans are doing a great job of hiding a crop of young superstars, I really don’t see anyone banging down the doors in regards to cracking into the first side. The outside backs stocks look very thin on the holiday strip. Hurrell looks the only genuine game breaker from 1 thru 5, and he struggled to live up to his own tremendous talents last year. The Titans really need a NYC graduate or someone the likes of Copley or Elliott to really hit their straps early on to spark something for the Gold Coast club. Michael Gordon looks the only genuine option in the number one jersey.
Unfortunately I just can’t see the Titans worrying too many sides in 2018. They lack a genuine game-breaking strike back, and Kane Elgey will really need to lift early on to avoid complete reliance on Ash Taylor.
Looking at the side it does look like the fortunes of the Gold Coast side do heavily rest on the shoulders of the 22 year old. As good as Elgey can be and as experienced and talented as Michael Gordon and Nathan Peats are, they all lack that freakish ability that most other NRL sides have in spades.
They were able to add some handy ‘ins’ to their roster but really needed to attract a few big name signings to push for finals footy quickly.
Garth Brennan is man with a plan, and he’s going to have to be clever to get the best out of this side. Hopefully he has a few tricks up their sleeve as I expect them to struggle.