Premiership Odds: (via betting.club): $151.00
Big Ins: Tyrone Roberts, Chris McQueen, Nathan Friend
Big Outs: James Roberts, Nate Myles, Aidan Sezer
The Titans start the shortest price wooden spoon “favourites” in recent memory after young half Kane Elgey suffered an injury that will see him miss the entire 2016 season.
The club’s recruitment was thrown into disarray after Daly Cherry-Evans backed out of a deal to become the club’s marquee signing, and they never truly recovered.
Unfortunately the Titans lost Aidan Sezer, Nate Myles and James Roberts, robbing them of two of their best three attacking weapons as well as an international forward.
There is still plenty of talent on the Gold Coast but it will all come down to how they can react to being told they’re going to finish last by pretty much every fan in the competition.
Either they believe it and fold ala the Sharks in 2014, or they show everybody how wrong they are, ala the Dragons in 2015.
Key Player: Tyrone Roberts
Roberts become the key player in the Titans line-up following the injury to Elgey. He will likely play at halfback with youngster Ash Taylor partnering him in the number six.
He is going to have to pretty much guide his side around the park until Taylor finds his feet in the top grade, and his kicking game is going to have to be on point from the first set of the season.
Although he didn’t have the greatest 2015, Roberts is a more than capable half with the ability to break the line or put someone through and into space.
His confidence would have been dented last season having jumped between NSW Cup and first grade, but his place in this Titans line-up is assured and the confidence stemming from that may see him back to his very best.
Young Gun: Ashley Taylor
Anyone who has seen Taylor play for the Broncos NYC team will know that this is one talented kid with a bright future.
He debuted in the top grade in 2015 and even though that game only lasted a short time, he has had a taste of the pressure that is NRL first grade football.
I hope that fans and critics allow him the time he needs to find his feet as it’s not fair to throw a 20 year-old kid in with unrealistic expectations.
I also hope that Taylor is given the nod from round one and isn’t forced to play second fiddle to a backrower turn playmaker such as Greg Bird. Taylor is the way forward.
Best Signing: Chris McQueen
I’d argue that the previously mentioned Roberts is the Titans best signing but McQueen will play an important role in what is a pretty decent forward pack on the holiday strip.
McQueen did not enjoy a brilliant 2015 but I’d expect that to work in the Titans favour.
This is former QLD representative who has been told his services are no longer required. If that doesn’t fire McQueen up to return to the form that saw him earn a QLD Origin jumper, I don’t know what will.
McQueen will be looked upon to play big minutes, possibly 80, and will need to provide plenty of aggression in defence and make plenty of metres in attack. He certainly has the skill.
Weakness: Backline lacks firepower
The departure of James Roberts has robbed the Titans of their most potent attacking weapon.
Unfortunately there is a rather large gap between Roberts and the remaining Titans backline in terms of brilliance, flair and try scoring ability.
Nene McDonald is a talented youngster while Zillman, Mead, Don and Hoffman can all produce magic on their day, they hardly form the scariest of oppositions for the major sides.
With Elgey out it’s hard to see where points come from in this Titans line up. Hopefully they prove us wrong, but they’re going to need to work hard in defence.
Strength: Back Row
The Titans backrow of Chris McQueen, Ryan James and Greg Bird is a potential match winning one.
Two former Origin reps as well as a likely future Origin candidate, all three of who can change a game with a big hit or a big run.
If these three can control their aggression and limit the ill-discipline they really can match it with any back row in the competition.
Greg Bird may have to adopt a playmaking role but I really think his presence at lock is the best bet for the Titans. He should worry about making metres and tackles. Leave the flair to the genuine halves.
Strongest Line Up:
1. Josh Hoffman
2. Anthony Don
3. William Zillman
4. Nene McDonald
5. David Mead
6. Ashley Taylor
7. Tyrone Roberts
8. David Shillington
9. Nathan Friend
10. Luke Douglas
11. Chris McQueen
12. Ryan James
13. Greg Bird
14. Kierran Moseley
15. Eddie Pettybourne
16. Zeb Taia
17. Agnatius Paasi
Last season I enjoyed watching the Titans play, but I fear that 2016 could be some pretty grim viewing at times.
There is enough talent there to win some games, and their forward pack won’t be bossed around too often.
While David Shillington, Roberts, Taylor, McQueen and Friend are all smart signings, they lack a genuine match winner.
Josh Hoffman needs to remind everyone of why he was once a New Zealand international while Roberts and Taylor need to gel quickly or else this could be a real disappointing season for those fans on the Gold Coast.