Remember the Tight Ones… I mean Titans? I’m not talking about the great Denzel Washington movie but the Gold Coast Titans. Largely irrelevant since joining the NRL in 2007, the Titans are still very much in the Rugby League wilderness but are hoping 2013 will see their fortunes turn around both on and off the field.
Big Dave Taylor joins the Titans from the Rabbitohs to bolster and already impressive forward pack, possibly the best in the NRL. He joins a forward pack that includes Luke Bailey, Matt Srama, Nate Myles, Greg Bird, Ashley Harrison, Mark Minichiello, Luke Douglas and Ryan James. Much will be expected of Taylor and his inability to consistently inject himself into games will be the biggest hurdle coach John Cartwright will have to overcome. I think it’s more a state of mind issue for Taylor than anything else. Obviously size is not an issue and Taylor has all the skills to be a destructive force but at times he checks out mentally from games or thinks he is a five eighth. (reminds me of me!)
Where the Titans are light on is the backs. Aidan Sezer will play five eighth and expectations are high after the departure of Scott Prince to the Broncos. However, there are a lot of question marks over the remaining players in the backline, especially Jamal Idris, who has failed to fire since joining the Titans from the Bulldogs. Big things were expected of Idris last year, but he failed to deliver in a big way and if the Titans are to challenge for the finals, they need Idris at his best every week. Less pies, more tries is my motto!
Beau Champion has returned to the Bunnies and Dominic Peyroux has joined the Warriors in the off-season. Their collective departure has created a gap in the backline that will probably be filled by Kevin Gordon, one of the NRL’s fastest players. But is he a bona fide centre? This remains to be seen.
Kevin Gordon, David Mead and Williams Zillman make up the wing and fullback combination and they are possibly the fastest outside backs combination in the NRL. However, due to a lack of playmakers, they have been underutilised for some time so if the Titans want finals glory, they need to work how to get these guys into open space as often as possible.
Halfback remains a concern with Albert Kelly playing in the number seven against the Cowboys this weekend. The much maligned Kelly last played with the Sharks and failed to fire in his time in the shire. He has ability no doubt, but there have been a lot of questions over his attitude both on and off the field.
I think the Titans will be very competitive in most of their games but I think due to the lack of a genuine halfback, Aidan Sezer will have to do a lot of it on his own, making him a marked man. A good run with injuries and the Titans may push for the lower end of the top eight but that’s being optimistic. I know little about their kicking game and that tells me this could be an area where the Titans struggle. With a large forward pack, you need win the battle of field position or your frwards will be ineffective after 20 minutes.
The pieces are slowly coming together but I don’t see finals football on the 2013 horizon for John Cartwright and his Titans. If the Titans miss out, I’m tipping John Cartwright won’t be around to coach the club in 2014.
2013 prediction – 13th