GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - JULY 27: Alexander Brimson of the Titans looks on during the round 19 match between the Gold Coast Titans and the Brisbane Broncos at Cbus Super Stadium on July 27, 2019 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

2019 has not been a season to remember for the Titans (see what I did there…).

Dead last in the NRL, coach Gareth Brennan copped the axe and a salary cap nightmare according to proposed saviour Mal Meninga leaves things looking pretty bleak in the near future for Queensland’s other, other team.

But what if the Titans could be fixed? By new coach Justin Holbrook… or by statistics. This instalment of By the numbers will attempt to work within the confines of the Titans salary cap and bad contract hell to propose a squad that could contend for finals in 2020 while building the core of a squad that can challenge for years to come. Titan up!


After 21 rounds the Titans have just 4 wins, 15 losses and a differential of minus 187. They are just as bad at home (2-8) as they are away (2-7). Here are the Titans league ranks in the key attacking statistical categories after 19 rounds (we draw the line here as the new coach begins experimenting).

PointsTPossCompRunsRun MetersOL

And defensive plus negative play

CategoryTacklesMissed TacklesIneffective
ErrorsHandling errors
Rank6th most5th most9th
7th most13th

Not a pretty picture. On the positive our Titans (we run them for the duration of this experiment) complete their sets, ranking 5th in the comp. Clearly though this not leading to points (14th) or repeat sets (12th in runs) and our defence is overworked (6th most tackles) and underperforming (5th most missed tackles & most points allowed). We concede the 4th least handling errors (7.9), but are not creating for our skill players (11th in Try Assists, 16th in Line break assists).

For season 2020, we (the Titans) need better run production and tackle rates (forwards), more points (winger) and creators (halves). Who of the 2019 squad has performed and held their spot though?

2019 Forwards Review

GamesTriesLB’sLBA’s Tackle BreaksOffloadsTklsTackle
B. Cartwright1937133250889.1%
J. Stockwell137220091.1%
J. Arrow13371841089.9%
J. Wallace1822332147091.1%
K. Hipgrave712112882.4%
K. Proctor182323866790.1%
L. Latu313080.6%
M. Fotuaika181281048091.5%
R. James61119193.0%
S. Stone41412987.7%
S. Boyd136229289.7%
W. Matthews23590.4%
N. Peats1022243291.0%
M. Rein16120369893.3%

Note: Darius Farmer is in the Squad but has not played an NRL game.


As you would expect it’s Arrow, Wallace, Proctor and before he was hurt, James. Fotuaika has been a pleasant surprise this year with an elite 91.5% tackle efficiency and 28 tackle breaks. Bryce Cartwright is the biggest surprise with a strong 89.9% tackle efficiency, a whopping 32 offloads and a very impressive 7 linebreak assists. Mitch Rein clearly outperformed Nathan Peats.


Leilani Latu has had a horror year with no tackle breaks and a poor 80.6% tackle efficiency. Shannon Boyd has been disappointing with just 6 tackle breaks, 2 offloads and no scores. Keegan Hipgrave is a tough, throwback style player but statistically he is a shocker with a 82.4% tackle efficiency. Will Matthews, Sam Stone and Nathan Peats were outperformed by their positional rivals.

2019 Backs Review

Games PlayedTriesTry AssistsLinebreaksLinebreak AssistsTackle Efficiency %
A. Brimson17457467.8%
A. Don1781671.4%
A. Taylor106486.0%
B. Lee62183.4%
B. Kelly18651073.3%
D. Copley1592869.0%
J. Arthurs8181.3%
K. Watkins381.8%
M. Gordon1231760.3%
P. Sami1151757.6%
R. Jacks9311181.2%
T. Peachey1723382.8%
T. Roberts156115577.6%

Note: Kea Pere, Tanah Boyd and Treymain Spry are in the Squad but have not played an NRL game.

Brian Kelly has been terrific, Phillip Sami have been effective, while Englishman Kallum Watkins gets a pass for coming in late, though he will be on a short leash for our 2020 Titans. Anthony Don continues to just produce each year (2nd in tries), though we are looking for someone a little more dynamic for that role. Tyrone Roberts has been creative (11 Try assists) while Dale Copley has been quietly productive and leads the try scoring.

Forward production

A clear issue for the Titans is ball running from the Forwards. Our Titans ranks 15th in the NRL for Run Metres, despite sitting 10th for total number of runs. Hitups set the table for the rest of the attack and has been identified as a massive area of need for these 2020 Titans. To measure the production of our forwards ball running I am introducing the HMPR (Hitup metres per run) stat. This will measure the success of Forwards in their hitups and allow us to identify players to improve this area for 2020. To give context to elite production for this stat Dave Klemmer has a HUPMR of 9.64 on 16.6 Hitups per game.

PlayerAverage Hitups per gameHMPR
K. Proctor8.119.65
J. Arrow15.009.35
J. Wallace12.509.22
K. Hipgrave6.309.13
W. Matthews5.009.00
S. Boyd9.108.66
J. Whitbread9.608.51
J. Stockwell6.208.51
B. Cartwright6.267.99
R. James12.007.86
S. Stone8.757.71

Fotuaika stands out again in what has truly been a breakout season for him. Shannon Boyd’s production, remembering this is his main role on the team, is concerning. B. Cartwright’s is awful and Ryan James is a big step down from previous years. New recruit Sam Stone is clearly not added the Hitup Metres we were looking for. This is an area we will definitively upgrade for 2020.

2020 Off Contracts
The following players come off contract at the end of 2019:
Jesse Arthurs
Michael Gordon (who has announced his retirement)
Ryley Jacks
Brenko Lee
Will Matthews
Jack Stockwell

Based on their 2019 performances there would be no tears if we resigned none of them. There is some intrigue around the potential of Arthurs and Stockwell and we may retain them depending on our salary cap situation and the incoming players we may acquire. Jacks is a workmanlike reserve but with Tanah Boyd coming through, is replaceable.

Big Money Contracts

Every team has some contracts they would love a do over on (see Boyd, Darius). Our Titans however have many. Far too many. In fact, of the 55 most expensive players for 2019, 9 are Titans. 9, and we are dead last on the league table! The average should be 3.43 per team and we have a whopping 9!! Here are our high priced offenders

PlayerLeague RankBelieved SalarySigned until end of
Ash TaylorT-3rd1,000,0002021
Ryan James34th700,0002020
Shannon BoydT-40th600,0002022
Bryce CartwrightT-40th600,0002021
Tyrone PeacheyT-40th600,0002021
Nathan PeatsT-40th600,0002020
Jarrod WallaceT-40th600,0002022
Kevin ProctorT-49th550,0002020
Leilani Latu54th500,0002020

To see the list of the most expensive players visit

Evidently we like throwing 600K contracts at underperforming players (not you Jarrod Wallace). Of course, none of them come off contract this season… So here’s hoping the English Super League comes a calling. Seriously though, we will make everyone on this list except Ryan James, Jarrod Wallace and Kevin Proctor available in the hopes we can shed at least 2 of these deals. Taylor’s deal makes him unlikely to be taken and if he can get sorted with his personal issues there may still be a future for him on the Coast. Boyd has been a massive disappointment with his hit up runs and metres, which is what he was brought in for, but is a recent Kangaroos prop so we may have a taker who hopes to get him back on track. He’s gone. No one would pay half what we are paying Cartwright, so we’re stuck with him. Same for Peachey, though we have an idea of how to better utilise them (more on that later). Peats is fine but if he goes we have Rein so at that price someone like the Tigers may need him. He’s gone. Latu’s contract is abysmal. Hopefully English teams remember him with the Panther’s and use him as a short range weapon. He’s gone.

Good. Three bloated contacts gone in Boyd, Peats & Latu (remember, this is hypothetical) which means now we have some cash, 1.7 million a year to be exact, so let’s go shopping.

2020 Targets

Big Mal tells us we have nothing left in the salary cap, after he signed his schoolboy prodigy, even with the off-contract players not being resigned. Thanks to the previous regime we don’t have much to work with other than the money we have saved on offloading the above contracts. With this in mind we have mined the off contract and feeder club talent available to create our wish list of players who meet our specific needs. Our 2020 wish list:

NRL Targets

TklsTkl Effec.
Run Mtrs
Run Mtrs Avg
Hitup Metres Per Run (HMPR)
Herman Ese’EseKnights1533.6132629990.4%96564.338.81
Toafofoa SipleyManly924.05612397.1%45050.008.47
Danny FualoloBulldogs1533.09226890.4%95363.539.20
Corey JensenCowboys616.016674.6%21936.509.86

Ese’Ese is the big ticket item on our list. We know that he is off-contract and is believed to be on half of Shannon Boyd’s salary. However Ese’Ese’s performance is far better than half of Boyds, in fact they are very much his equal. Here is the comparison of the two.

 Believed SalaryTTB’sOLTacklesTackle
Run Metres
Run Metres Average
Hitup Metres Per Run (HMPR)


Canterbury Cup and Intrust Super Cup Targets

PlayerAge2019 Club     Pos
Lachlan Timm23Magpies/
691 Tackles1st in the Cup3,293 Run metres2nd in the Cup2nd most runsProp
Jaimin Jolliffe22Jets /
90.0% Tackle efficiency6th in Cup in tackles3rd in Total run metres42 Tackle Breaks9.16 HUPMRProp
Jordan Grant25Redcliff91.5% tackle efficiency44 Tackle Breaks32 offloads132.09 Average
9.85 HUPMRProp
Tom Gilbert19Black
tackle efficiency
43 Tackle Breaks131.2
Average HUPM
14.7 HUPS per gm8.92
Harry Grant21Falcons748 Tackles3rd in Tackles1st in Receipts14 Tries20 Try AssistsHooker
Greg Leleisiuao22Magpies/
155 Tackle breaks1st in the Cup1st in total run metres2nd in Offloads3rd in KRMWing

The NRL minimum salary for a player in 2019 is 105K. This rises to 110K next season with the salary cap rising from 9.6m to 9.8m.

Without knowing all the ins and out of the contracts these players are currently on, we can offer each the following based on our current financial state.

Herman Ese’Ese24300K3The prize jewel of our rebuild, affordable after disappointing year.
Toafofoa Sipley24225K3Still developing. Should be a starter in 2 years, could possibly become more.
Corey Jensen25125K1Needs a home, needs to improve defensively, worth a flyer offer
Danny Fualolo24200K3Underrated player. Has improvement in him. Improves current squad.
Lachlan Timm23200K3Potential future star.
Jaimin Jolliffe150K3Gives him time to develop. A flyer.
Jordan Grant25125K2Age is against him getting a better deal.
Tom Gilbert19200K4Will lock him up into the start of his prime.
Harry Grant21200K4Will be our Hooker of the future.
Greg Leleisiuao22150K4Could become a game breaking try scorer. Return home for Ex-Titan Jnr.

Total available to spend: 1.7m
Total offers made: 1.875
It is highly unlikely that we will sign all 10, but in the unlikely event that we do we will pull the offer to Corey Jensen and restructure some other contracts to cover the small gap. Since this is our hypothetical we will keep all 10 and squeeze the numbers into the cap thanks to some shrewd contract negotiating by Big Mal and the dumping of Keegan Hipgrave

Arrivals & Departures
Arriving                                                         Departing
Herman Ese’Ese                                         Shannon Boyd                          
Toafoa Sipley                                               Leilani Latu
Corey Jensen                                               Will Matthews
Danny Fualolo                                             Michael Gordon
Lachlan Timm                                             Brenko Lee
Jaimin Joliffe                                               Ryley Jacks

Jordan Grant                                             Jack Stockwell

Harvey Grant                                             Nathan Peats
Tom Gilbert                                                 Keegan Hipgrave
Greg Leleisiuao                                           Darius Farmer

We have improved our HUPMR by %, found our future Hooker and Winger, greatly improved our Forward depth for this season and the next several, all while shedding some undesirable contracts. Ryley Jacks will be welcomed back if Ash Taylor continues to be MIA.

Increased HUPMR


Herman Ese’Ese8.812.81%8.66Shannon Boyd
Toafofoa Sipley8.474.56%8.10L. Latu
Danny Fualolo9.208.10%8.51J. Stockwell
Corey Jenson9.869.55%9.00W. Matthews
Jordan Grant9.857.88%9.13K. Hipgrave

The Roosters, ranked number 1 in the comp, have beaten us by 9.2% in 2019, this 7.15% improvement in HMPR for 2020 puts us in a much more competitive position next season. Improving our go forward is going to create more space and opportunities for our Halves and Backs, all driven by our key focus: improved Hitups.

2020 Depth Chart
And now….The grand unveiling of your new look 2020 Gold Coast Titans

J.ArrowM. FotuaikaR. JamesB.KellyP. Sami
J. ArthursD.
T. SipleyJ. GrantH. Ese’EseS. StoneT. PeacheyLeleisuao
T. SpryB. Cart
S. StoneJ.JoliffeT. GilbertK. Pere
C. JensenT. Gilbert
Half Hooker Fullback5/8
A. TaylorM. ReinA. BrimsonT. Roberts
T. BoydH. GrantT. PeacheyB. Cart

Projected 2020 Team List
                                                                   Round 1 2019 Original Team List  

1. A. Brimson                                           Fullback                              1. M.Gordon
2. A. Don                                                  Wing                                  2. B. Lee
3. K. Watkins                                            Centre                                3. T. Peachey
4. B. Kelly                                                 Centre                                 4. B. Kelly
5. P. Sami                                                 Wing                                  5. P.Sami
6. T. Roberts                                          Five-Eighth                           6. T. Roberts
7. A. Taylor                                             Halfback                              7. A. Taylor
8. J. Wallace                                              Prop                                   8. J. Wallace
9. M. Rein                                                 Hooker                               9. N. Peats
10. M. Fotuaika                                           Prop                                  10. S. Boyd
11. K. Proctor                                             2RF                                   11. K. Proctor
12. R. James                                              2RF                                    12. R. James
13. J. Arrow                                               Lock                                   13. J. Arrow

14. H. Ese’Ese                                       Interchange                          14. M. Fotuaika
15. T. Sipley                                          Interchange                         15. M. King
16. D. Fualolo                                        Interchange                         16. B. Cartwright
17. T. Peachey                                       Interchange                         17. A. Brimson

18. L. Timm                                             Reserve                               18. M. Rein
19. B.Cartwright                                      Reserve                                19. D. Copley
20. J. Grant                                             Reserve                                20. A. Don
21. H. Grant                                            Reserve                                21. K. Hipgrave

5 Changes to the starting lineup, 4 changes on the bench and 10 personnel changes. Peachey will play as the super utility, covering all the backs and playing as a forward when in game injuries arrive. In the event he is starting at centre or Fullback due to injury, Cartwright would take his bench spot covering the Forwards and the Halves. Watkins is on a short leash, if he doesn’t settle into the NRL game Copley will be recalled. Ese’Ese will play 40 mins a game as a devastating ball runner, Sipley and Fuasalo will give an improved performance from the bench than what we have endured in 2019. Leleisuao will push the Don, Grant will push Rein and the Forward depth will create many more options, and injury covers, in 2020. The increased Forward production willopen up opportunity for the halves and backs, with Kelly, Sami and Brimson expected to star.

Finals in 2020
In the interest of fairness; the Titans haven’t had a great run in 2019 with injuries and absences of key players in James, Arrow, Wallace and Taylor. With these key figures back on board, the return of the better performers (and those we couldn’t offload) in this year’s squad being used in the manner we have determined (Cartwright, Peachey) and with our new additions, these hypothetical Titans will play Finals football in 2020. Stronger ball running, more reliable tacklers, more creative attack and better finishing will be the hallmarks of these Titans.

All stats courtesy of and

What do you think? How would you go about fixing the Titans? Let’s hear it in the comments.
In the meantime: Titans in the 2020 Finals – Titan Up!

As always, thanks for reading and good luck to your club this weekend


  1. I’ve said this for the longest time. Stop paying overs, insread we need to ‘moneyball’ this team. look at the stats and look at the price. if the price is fair and the stats are above average then sign them. By no means would this new look team be a premiership winning team, but it would be a step in the right direction.

  2. I’ve said this for the longest time. Stop paying overs, instead we need to ‘moneyball’ this team. look at the stats and look at the price. if the price is fair and the stats are above average then sign them. By no means would this new look team be a premiership winning team, but it would be a step in the right direction.

  3. Somehow you have to unload the overrated Ash Taylor.

    Her is too much baggage & cost with little to no return.

  4. Completely agree with you there titans2012, paying the ‘overs’ is crippling this club.
    Phoenix, he’s on big money which makes him awfully tough to move. Hopefully he can turn it around cos, for mine, the Titans are stuck with him.
    Thanks for reading lads

  5. Agree with a lot of the players you need to get rid of Matthew, but you won’t sign blokes like Harry Grant & Gilbert: they are locked in at their existing clubs. Ese’Ese, Sipley and Fuasalo would be good buys IF you can rid of Latu, Hipgrave, Peats, Cartwright & Shannon Boyd. Tanah Boyd is not an NRL half (another poor signing) so you need to keep Jacks. Taylor has to go: he is no value at that money, so you need another 6/7. Copely is too injury prone so you need an experienced outside back, like say Josh Hoffman (played 49 games straight before the Hayne train arrived & they needed him to move for SC relief) & is from Qld. Jordan Grant & Timms are OK at Cup level but they won’t take the next step. Falcon’s Lachlan Roe & Grant’s teammate at Dolphins Nathan Watts would be a better options (Watts played 20’s with Titans). If you get rid of Peats the next best hooker in the Qld or NSW Cup is Mitch Cronin, who has similar figures as Grant but is more versatile (been Qld Residents last 4 years). The comments about Money-Balling the Club are 100% correct, but getting rid of the under-performing/overpaid players is the problem. Some of the above players I have mentioned would take less money as you will have to pay out your list of under-performers.

  6. You make some real good points there Hoges17. Harry Grant is clearly blocked at the Storm by Cam & Brandon Smith so there is hope for a Scott Drinkwater scenario where he is released to pursue an opportunity. Timms & Grant are never going to be stars, but could be effective depth at a much more reasonable price than what the Titans have. I’ve got huge wraps on Gilbert so I’d be trying very hard to pry him away.
    If there was a way to offload Ash Taylor & his ridiculous salary I can promise you these lists would be very different and Boyd would also be looking for a new home. The extra cash would allow the Titans to pick up guys like Hoffman, who I think you make an excellent suggestions on. Good call on Roe and Watts too.
    Now, if they could just to get rid of Taylor……
    Thanks for reading.

  7. You have to ask why some players have been terrible when they go to the Gold Coast? When they’ve seemed like good buys at their previous clubs & many clubs at the time wanted to buy them.
    It doesn’t matter who is bought for the club , if the reasons for underperformance continue.
    If it were just one or two players who’ve gone down hill at the Titans , that can happen anywhere. Except perhaps at the Storm?
    How did Boyd, Latu, Matthews, Cartwright, Peachey etc suddenly become terrible players , with a move North?
    Get rid of the now terrible players & you may save some money.
    Just changing the coach may not change the reasons for players slides from being good to poor.
    I wonder if Ash Taylor’s problems will magically disappear with a change of clubs?
    I’m betting quite a few of the players can be good again elsewhere. If players are even better performers at Penrith than they are at the Gold Coast? You have massive problems!
    Next thing is.. Why go there if you read about players getting worse when they go to the coast? If I’m Ese’Ese, I’m taking $300,000 to go to anywhere else, other than the Titans.

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