By Lukas Z
The 2017 Gold Coast Titans could have achieved anything. After a top eight finish in 2016, the club had good reason for optimism. The presence of Jarryd Hayne, a strong forward pack and creative young halves Ash Taylor and Kane Elgey meant expectations were high.
Unfortunately, injury and off-field turmoil decimated the Titans. They had 11 regular first-graders missing due to injury by round 6. Jarryd Hayne always seemed to be in the papers about his attitude towards training and relationship with coach Neil Henry. 34 players were used in 2017 with 10 making their NRL debut.
Now, the Hayne Plane is gone. With such a divisive figure out of the locker room, hopefully this leads to a more unified playing roster and improved cohesion on the field. Many will want to impress the new coach Garth Brennan in the early rounds in order to lock in a spot in the starting XIII. This can only mean good things for SuperCoach players.
Gains & Losses
Ins: Jai Arrow (Brisbane), Brendan Elliot (Newcastle), Leilani Latu (Penrith), Mitch Rein (Penrith), Jack Stockwell (Newcastle), Michael Gordon (Sydney Roosters), Brenko Lee (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs).
Outs: Jarryd Hayne (Parramatta), Chris McQueen (Wests Tigers), Ben Nakubuwai (Salford), Agnatius Paasi (NZ Warriors), Nathaniel Peteru (Leeds Rhinos), Leivaha Pulu (NZ Warriors), Tyrone Roberts (Warrington), Paterika Vaivai (Leigh), Daniel Vidot (retired), William Zillman (released).
The Titans play the top 3 sides of 2017 both home and away (Storm, Roosters and Broncos). Their run home to the finals from round 21 onwards has them playing against top 8 sides from last season.
Round 1 is a home game against the Raiders. They lost to the Canberra side in the corresponding fixture last year 42-16. Raiders winger Jordan Rapana bagged a hat-trick in the opening 25 minutes, running for 234 metres and 19 tackle breaks.
The Titans have no five-day turnarounds in 2018. This brings with it an air of stability and assurance when it comes to choosing Titans players. More time between games means more time to rest up and recuperate any niggling injuries. The Titans have the bye in round 13, prior to State of Origin 1.
- Michael Gordon
- Anthony Don
- Dale Copley
- Konrad Hurrell
- Brendan Elliot
- Kane Elgey
- Ashley Taylor
- Leilani Latu
- Nathan Peats
- Ryan James
- Kevin Proctor
- Joe Greenwood
- Jai Arrow
- Mitch Rein
- Jack Stockwell
- Max King
- Morgan Boyle
New recruits Gordon, Rein, Elliot, Arrow, Stockwell and Latu make the 17. SuperCoaches should note that Don and Peats may not be ready for round 1 due to injury. John Olive, Tyronne Roberts-Davis and new signing Brenko Lee are the leading contenders to replace the Titans top try scorer of 2017. Meanwhile, Mitch Rein would most likely step in to replace Nathan Peats with Karl Lawton coming onto the bench in jersey 14.
Ashley Taylor – HFB, $471,500
In his second full season of first grade, Taylor was the only Titans player to steer clear of injury and play all 24 games. His 19 try assists was ranked equal-first in the NRL. As the club’s first choice goal-kicker he nailed 38 from 59 attempts to finish with a fair 64.4% success rate. He averaged 53 SuperCoach points across the season with a lowest score of 18. Over the first 10 rounds last season he averaged 59 SuperCoach points, the second consecutive year his average has been above 50 for that period. With Jarryd Hayne gone he is the Titans chief playmaker and main kicker in general play. The lack of a ball-playing fullback in the side means he has a lot more responsibility in attack than his peers in other teams. It will be interesting to see if he retains the goal-kicking duties or if they are passed on to the experienced new recruit Michael Gordon.
Ryan James – FRF, $530,100
James played 22 games in 2017. In 50% of those games, he scored over 60 SuperCoach points. He averaged 60 points across the season. That level of consistency is exactly what you want in a forward, someone who you can lock into your side and safely watch the 50+ scores roll in. The club captain is a quality player who has been earmarked for NSW Origin selection since he burst onto the scene. He likes to get amongst the action, averaging just under a point a minute in 2017. Despite being a forward the try line isn’t totally foreign to him, scoring 15 tries in 46 matches across the previous two seasons.
Jarrod Wallace – FRF, $467,400
The 2017 Queensland State of Origin representative was rewarded for his solid productivity for the Titans, averaging 125 run metres and 32 tackles. Playing rep football clearly inspired him to go back to club land and lead the way. He averaged 13.8 hit-ups a game, the most among the Titans forwards and second overall at the club behind human wrecking ball Konrad Hurrell. His average of 53 SuperCoach points was produced in just 56 minutes of average game time so he has no problem rolling up his sleeves and doing the hard yards. I’ve included him in the sleepers because his consistency in SuperCoach isn’t as good as Ryan James’ and his likely involvement in Origin means he may miss some games. Jarrod’s also nearly $100,000 more expensive than he was at the end of last season.
Konrad Hurrell – CTW, $474,300
The man they call Koni averaged 53 SuperCoach points in 2017. With Jarryd Hayne departed he is now the Titans most important outside back and will undoubtedly get a lot more of ball in 2018 now the plane has taken off back to Sydney. The big question mark around Konrad is his consistency. Like Manu Vatuvei before him, Koni can be supremely good one week then have a total shocker in his next game. Keep an eye on how he is used in the Titans attacking structures the first few rounds.
Nathan Peats – HOK, $459,100
For the past three seasons, Nathan Peats has averaged 50+ in SuperCoach. At that starting price he offers great value for money and a legitimate differential pick for those who don’t want to follow the Cameron Smith crowd. Peats’ average of 39.3 tackles was in the top 4 across the NRL in his position. The incumbent NSW Origin hooker has an injury cloud hanging over him for round 1 so keep an eye on his progress as we get closer to the season opener.
Kevin Proctor – 2RF, $470,900
Since 2014, Proctor has averaged 50+ every year in SuperCoach. His late night out in Canberra early in 2017 with Jesse Bromwich has him seemingly locked out of the New Zealand test side and rep football for the foreseeable future. If he can stay injury free and behave himself off the field Kevin is a great option for your SuperCoach side. He was in the top five among Titans forwards for total run metres despite only playing 16 games.
Jai Arrow – 2RF, $308,800
The 22-year-old is the front runner to be the Titans starting lock for round 1. The new recruit from the Broncos was dubbed as the next Corey Parker during his time there. While Jai can’t kick goals like the SuperCoach legend he’s already showing signs that he is capable of producing a similar workload if given enough time on the field. In 12 games for the Broncos in 2017 he averaged 26 minutes, 8 hit-ups for 65 metres and 15 tackles. Although expensive for a rookie player the no. 13 jersey does appear to be his to lose and I can only see his game time increasing.
Morgan Boyle – FRF, $356,200
Making his first-grade debut in 2017, Boyle averaged 40 points in SuperCoach despite coming off the interchange bench for 7 of his 15 first-grade appearances. He made the top 5 among Titans forwards for total run metres, his 1,371 being the most among all forwards who made their NRL debut in 2017.