NRL Rd 14 - Sharks v Titans
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 15: Kevin Proctor of the Titans is sent off by referee Henry Perenara for biting the forearm of Shaun Johnson of the Sharks during the round 14 NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Gold Coast Titans at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on August 15, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Predicted Finish: 15th

Actual Finish: 9th

A huge miss from myself, and many others who predicted that the Titans would be every bit as bad as they were in 2019. The Titans, for mine, were the shock performers of the season, and easily one of the top two improvers. Incredible season under Justin Holbrook’s watch.

Highlights

Late season run: With five rounds to go, the Titans were absolutely gone and looked like falling into obscurity, however finished the season as the form team of the competition.

Five straight victories on the back of some AJ Brimson magic had the Titans beating the finals bound Knights with relative ease. If the season had gone two more weeks, they’re playing finals at the expense of the Sharks.

Winning six of their last eight games really have them set up with confidence as they enter the 2021 pre-season.

Halves partnership: 2020 will be remembered as the year that the Titans FINALLY got their halves partnership right. Ash Taylor has long been seen as the long-term number seven but looked far more comfortable at six, partnered with the extremely talented Jamal Fogarty.

Fogarty took the reins at the Titans and completely revamped their attack. Taylor, without the pressure of being the main playmaker, was allowed to interject himself as he saw fit and went a long way to becoming the player we all knew he could be. Brilliant.

Signings for next season: Herman Ese’ese, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui and David Fifita. Three marquee signings that have the Titans poised to return to finals footy for the first time since 2016.

Herbert and McIntyre are two clever squad signings but in the three aforementioned big men, the Titans now have one of the strike forward packs for 2021.

Fifita was the big name, big money signing but I’d argue that Tino is THE signing. He was amongst QLD’s best in all three Origin games this season. Sign me up to watch these three play in front of Brimson and co next year.

Lowlights

Horrible start to the season: The Titans started the 2020 season as they finished the 2019 season, horribly. A 30-point loss to the Cowboys had fans worried they were in for a long season.

Although they would bounce back in round two, the Titans would only win three of their opening 12 games and four of their opening 15. Simply put, they were too far off the bat to truly challenge for finals and only a late season run of incredible form saw them finish as high as they did.

The bite: It was one of the low points of the 2020 season as a whole and unfortunately requires mentioning.

The Titans were well on their way to upsetting the Sharks at Kogarah until captain Kevin Proctor was sent off for biting Shaun Johnson. From there the Sharks ran riot and won comfortably, but Proctor would miss four weeks and the Titans would attract unwanted attention they did not need. Bad moment.

Star Player: AJ Brimson

Brimson only played the nine games in 2020 for the Titans but his performances were such that he was the club’s best. He finished on 13 Dally M points, half the number Jack Wighton won with, despite playing less than half the games.

165 running metres per game, seven tries, and a couple of try assists confirmed what we all already knew, that Brimson is the Titan’s long-term option in the fullback role.

If he had played a few more games I have no doubt in the world that the Titans finish in eighth spot. It’s no coincidence that the Titans won six of the nine games Brimson played.

He is a genuine superstar and made a brilliant debut for the Maroons in Game I. He’s the player to watch in 2021 for mine.

Season Grading: B

Truthfully if the season ended at round 14, the Titans are a D- at best. Fast forward five weeks and I still believe that if the season went another fortnight, they were playing finals footy.

To finish 9th after their horror 2019 wooden spoon season is incredible. Add to the fact that they did so under a rookie coach (at NRL level) makes this all the more amazing.

Throw in the ridiculous form of Brimson, the talents of their halves, and three marquee signings in their forward pack and 2020 is nothing but a success.

Brian Kelly won the Player of the Year award and looks to have realised the talent he has always had. Phillip Sami’s performances on the wing were such that he played Origin for the Maroons.

Tyrone Peachy had his best season at the club and looks a real weapon moving forward. Tanah Boyd may be the answer long-term in nine after an incredible season.

Up front the monstrous Moeaki Fotuaika had a season to remember. 145 average running metres per game, 1043 post contact running metres and 40 tackle breaks saw him debut for QLD. He’s going to be an absolute giant moving forward.

The best case scenario for the Titans in 2020 was not a title, it was being in a better position moving forward than they were going in. They have achieved this to a tee and now look set for a finals run in 2021.