The Gold Coast Titans never truly got going in 2018, with a raft of injuries in key positions forcing constant reshuffles and empty benches during games, and experienced players free-fell out of form far too often. The emergence of gun rookies AJ Brimson and Moeaki Fotuaika and the unleashing of Jai Arrow as one of the competition’s best forwards were shining lights in an otherwise disappointing year. Aside from that, a season of “what could have been” petered out to a 14th-place finish with a series of close losses against much more-fancied teams continuing to frustrate their fans. Déjà vu!
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2019 looks a little brighter on the Glitter Strip, with some astute acquisitions in the form of the ultimate X-Factor Tyrone Peachey, giant prop Shannon Boyd, speedy centre Brian Kelly and more halves options Ryley Jacks and Tyrone Roberts, adding a combination of depth and talent to a squad that desperately needs both. It makes for some very interesting positional decisions to be made.
It looks as though the veteran Michael Gordon is winning the race for the fullback position, which leaves AJ Brimson biding his time battling for a halves spot before he can get another run in the fullback jersey he finished the 2018 year so well in. Just where he can find a spot in the side has become even cloudier in the off-season, due to a combination of recent shoulder surgery, Ash Taylor vouching for new re-recruit Tyrone Roberts as his preferred halves partner, and the form of Roberts in the recent All Stars match.
Peachey’s arrival will likely see him land in the centres, and with that, he adds another dimension to the Titans’ attack that has been accused of being far too reliant on Taylor in years past. This makes the fight for the opposing centre position a tough one, with first-grade regulars Dale Copley, Brian Kelly and Brenko Lee vying for their chance. Shannon Boyd’s arrival is also likely to push Titans’ veteran Ryan James to an edge and offer some much-needed mongrel up front.
Thankfully, outside the odd niggle, the Titans have had a pretty good off-season, with almost all players on deck and raring to go heading into the trials. With some luck and on the back of such a strong forward pack, the Titans will surely be on the rise in 2019.
2019 GAINS & LOSSES
2019 GAINS: Jesse Arthars (South Sydney Rabbitohs, 2019), Shannon Boyd (Canberra Raiders, 2022), Ryley Jacks (Melbourne Storm, 2019), Brian Kelly (Manly Sea Eagles, 2021), Tyrone Peachey (Penrith Panthers, 2021), Tyrone Roberts (Warrington Wolves, 2020)
2019 LOSSES: Kane Elgey (Manly Sea Eagles), Brendan Elliot (Manly Sea Eagles), Joe Greenwood (Wigan Warriors), Konrad Hurrell (Leeds Rhinos), Ryan Simpkins (retired)
Reading the above list, there’s not a hell of a lot that’s likely to get the Gold Coast locals clamouring for spots in CBUS Super Stadium this season, but NSW star Tyrone Peachey is one hell of a gun to add to the list. Another Tyrone (Roberts) starred for the Indigenous All Stars in their win on Friday night and has given coach Garth Brennan plenty to think about heading into the season. Personally, I think he’s quite a handy player if his last year with the Titans and recent foray into the Super League is anything to go by, and a Roberts/Taylor halves combination with Brimson unleashed at the back at some point during the year could be gold for the Titans, but it may not be the route they take to start the year.
Titans’ fans will be somewhat disappointed to see local product Kane Elgey never quite living up to the hype he began his career with as he moves onto the Sea Eagles, but it will mean a freshening up of the halves situation this season. In all, the Coast have done reasonably well in the recruitment stakes, but one feels like they’re one or two real superstars short of a roster that can challenge the top sides on a regular basis.
LIKELY STARTING 17
1 Michael Gordon 2. Anthony Don 3. Dale Copley 4. Tyrone Peachey 5. Phillip Sami 6. AJ Brimson 7. Ash Taylor 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Nathan Peats 10. Shannon Boyd 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Ryan James 13. Jai Arrow 14. Mitch Rein 15. Moeaki Fotuaika 16. Will Matthews 17. Keegan Hipgrave
The Titans backline seems to hold the most conjecture coming into the season. Brenko Lee (wing) and Brian Kelly (centre) have been training together on the right edge in the off-season, with Brenko shedding a massive 7kgs off his frame in a bid to outstrip his rivals to a starting spot. There’s not many in the backline that scream out ‘pick me!’ for SuperCoaches, but this sort of competition can only be a good thing for this club.
Recent word out of the Coast is that Ryan James’ medial ligament damage and recovery is not going as well as first thought and he’s likely to sit out the Titans trial matches. All the more reason he fits into a certain category below…
Teams they play twice: Sharks, Warriors, Panthers, Knights, Cowboys, Sea Eagles, Broncos, Storm, Dragons
Teams they play once: Raiders, Rabbitohs, Tigers, Bulldogs, Roosters, Eels.
Bye Week: Round 16
They face a tough stretch of 3 straight away games from Rounds 3-5 in Sydney and then Auckland, and will play four Top 8 teams out of their opening 5 games. It’ll give a great indication of where the Titans stand in the competition and these new combinations will have to click early.
Saturday 22nd February – v Cowboys @ Sunshine Coast Stadium
Saturday 2nd March – v Broncos @ CBUS Stadium
The NRLSCTalk Mega Guide is now available for purchase and we have just released Version 2, which has a stack of updates and improvements. For just $12.99 you receive over 130 pages of detailed analysis on every club and player listed in the club. Click on the below image to buy your copy now.
Below we have provided in the individual player grades as per our 2019 Mega Guide
Buy your copy here.
JAI ARROW (2RF – $598,000 – 2018 Ave: 64)
2018 Mega Guide Rating: A
Jai Arrow had a breakout year in 2018, being called up to represent Queensland and being an inspiration on the field for the luckless Titans. The big wraps put on him from SuperCoaches heading into the season as a cheapie were duly rewarded when he shot out of the gates averaging 71PPG at over 1.2PPM from the first 8 Rounds. With a huge base work rate (52BPPG) and a great offloading game, he is rolled gold for SuperCoach. The intense style of game Arrow plays unfortunately caught up with him during the year, with chronic back spasms reducing both output and minutes and proving frustrating for both player and SuperCoaches who had seen exactly what he can do. He comes into the
2019 season at a relatively premium price but will be massive value if he can stay fit with a 1.17PPM average. He’ll be looked up to as a forward leader for this pack and fans can expect an uptick on his 55MPG, especially considering he has had a full pre-season under the belt and is, by all accounts, finally healthy. You can’t say the same for his second-row partner, Ryan James, who is battling a pre-season medial ligament injury, meaning Arrow has the early edge in the battle for all-important minutes here.
TYRONE PEACHEY (2RF/CTW – $453,000 – 2018 Ave: 48)
2018 Mega Guide Rating: B
After all the drama of the ‘will he, won’t he’ now behind him and Peachey having finally made it up north, he looks set to snap up a spot a left centre and provide a roaming Ash Taylor and AJ Brimson/Tyrone Roberts with the potential of a formidable attacking combination. His utility value has previously made him a frustrating SuperCoach option, with Peachey always the first to be shuffled around where required, with time in both right and left centre, fullback, 5/8 and the bench last season. So perhaps, with a settled position and licence to attack on the left edge, Peachey becomes a more interesting prospect. Over the last 3 seasons, he averages 51PPG in the centre position, which is roughly in line with his current pricing. Plenty of marks, but as an experienced head in a side without much of it in key attacking positions, he’s likely to command plenty of ball. Unfortunately for the man likely to be playing outside of him (Sami), it might mean the points dry up if his reputation as one of the competition’s great ball hogs continues. He looked very handy in the Indigenous All Stars match and looks as sharp as ever. Surely this is the season he stays in one spot.
JARROD WALLACE (FRF – $478,600 – 2018 Ave: 51)
2018 Mega Guide Rating: C
Jarrod Wallace didn’t quite live up to expectations in his second year at the Titans in 2018, with his cash cow 2017 season a long-distant memory. His 51PPG was about what you would expect of a prop forward who pushed out 50MPG, but when you stack this up against the year before where he nudged 57MPG, this resulted in quite a drop. Considering his 2018 average was inflated by 3 tries (0 in 2017), this doesn’t paint the best picture for the Queensland Origin rep. However, the expected move of Ryan James to the back row and the addition of massive Shannon Boyd, who isn’t known for his long stints on the field, should be beneficial for Wallace’s minutes at prop, so an uptick in his output is surely on the cards As price is definitely a factor for SuperCoaches in the early rounds, an average anywhere close to 60PPG from him will be massive and open up many upgrade doors down the line. He fits the same mold as the likes of Aiden Tolman and Dale Finucane, who many SuperCoaches are looking to as a mid-range early season cash cow with the lure of additional minutes in their respective rotations. With the Titans’ tough draw to start the year, it could mean plenty of defensive work to get through which will mean a lot of points on offer for Wallace.
AJ BRIMSON (FLB/FE – $462,200 – 2018 Ave: 49)
2018 Mega Guide Rating: C (D if Tyrone Roberts starts)
AJ piqued the interest of many SuperCoaches with his 4-game stretch in the fullback position to close out the 2018 season, averaging over 60PPG. He debuted in Round 10 of last year in the #6 jersey, and a series of low-range scores around the 30 mark was enough to make a bit of cash for owners who had bought in over the bye Rounds, but little else. It was only when this lightfoot launched into full flight at the back that his potential became crystal clear. Unfortunately, it seems that Michael Gordon will resume his post at fullback in 2019, with Brimson resigned to fighting it out for the 5/8 jersey or potentially a bench utility role at worst. SuperCoaches should also be wary of Brimson coming into the year fresh off an off-season shoulder operation and is racing the clock to be fit for the Titans’ trials. As mentioned above, Tyrone Roberts is ticking plenty of boxes in the race for the #6 jersey, so Brimson may just be blooded from the bench to start the season. It all points to a serious drop in price that will make him a genuine mid-year pickup contender if he can make it into the starting lineup, particularly at the back.
RYAN JAMES (2RF/FRF – $585,800 – 2018 Ave: 63)
2018 Mega Guide Rating: C
Ryan James shot back to SuperCoach relevance midway through last season, as did his tryscoring form to an extent. While not reaching the great heights of his 2016 season where he averaged an incredible 73PPG from just 59MPG courtesy of 11 tries, his time on the field in 2018 shot through the roof to 73MPG. This was largely down to injuries in the forward pack meaning any time James was on the bench was generally cut short. James was moved to an edge at the start of the 2018 season and put back there intermittently throughout the early stages of the year. This had a big impact on his work rate, with just 0.57BPPM compared to 0.74BPPM in his more-favoured front row position. The gap between his PPG was also massive, 53 on the edge compared to 65 in the middle. This makes a pending move back to the second row with the arrival of Shannon Boyd in 2019 a dagger for SuperCoaches, with the all-important minutes and base stats likely to be on the downhill slide as a result. For his price, there are too many better options in both FRF/2RF this season.
PHILLIP SAMI (CTW – $445,500 – 2018 Ave: 48)
2018 Mega Guide Rating: D
Sami had a breakout year in 2018, playing all 24 games and making the left-wing spot his own for the Coast. He finished the year averaging a reasonable 48PPG, placing second to Anthony Don on the try scorers list with 14. He had a tendency to drift out of games as young wingers do, but at nearly 100kgs and 1.86m tall, possesses a strong running game that, with confidence, will see him with an uptick on his mediocre 25BPPG last year. The arrival of renowned ball hog Tyrone Peachey to partner him on the left flank will scare plenty of SuperCoaches off, however, as this spot can almost be a kiss of death for a young winger. Hard to see him doing much with this tricky price.
BRYCE CARTWRIGHT (2RF/FE- $231,300 – 2018 Ave: 25)
2018 Mega Guide Rating: D
It just feels wrong leaving this guy off the list. Everyone was invited to the party last year and was pumped for a massive one. This loose unit used to throw three-day benders for fun before he trashed his home in Penrith one too many times and got an eviction notice in 2017. Moving north of the border to the Coast in 2018 with the reputation that the city holds was surely going to see the re-emergence of this party animal. He was going to be allowed free reign to cut loose and truly redeem his reputation.
He started sending out invites all over the country as soon as he landed, with the promise of free entry, endless party pies and 15-drink minimums that would go on every weekend. Everyone you knew was coming along to the opening bash in March. It was gonna be huge! Things…didn’t quite go to plan though. Everyone turned up, ready to go at the 2018 GC Carty Party…only to find the host already passed out in a sea of empty $12 vodka bottles and anti-vaxxer pamphlets. Some got out as quick as they could, while others simply waited…and waited…and waited for this former party animal to revive himself and kickstart the much-promised rager on the Coast. He did neither, was turned onto his side to prevent any further damage, and everyone left stone-cold sober, turning off the lights and locking the door on their way out vowing never to go back. Until next year, maybe, after he gets accustomed to the beach life and eases himself back into it…
Bryce Cartwright was the bane of just about every SuperCoach’s existence in 2018. With massive expectations on him as a big-money recruit from the Panthers, his clunky attack and complete lack of defensive commitment typified the Titans’ poor year. We soon forget that this man averaged 74PPG in 2016 when he was offloading at will, breaking the line and setting up tries all over the shop. Two years of rubbish has led to him managing just 45MPG in 2018 (boosted by two starts at 5/8 where he scored just 22 and 27) and being unceremoniously dumped from the side mid-year. Gone are the offloads and gone are the attacking stats that made this dual 2RF/FE such a gun in the past. One thing’s for sure, at least: there’s only one way to go for Bryce, but it may be a slow road back. He’ll likely start the year off in reserve grade and will need to do a hell of a lot of work to prove to his coach, his teammates and SuperCoaches that he’s worth the risk again.
If you see any strange men on the Gold Coast handing out unnamed party fliers during the season (keep an eye out for NRL SC Talk’s very own Sparky doing just this), just keep walking. It’s a massive tourist trap.
JESSE ARTHARS (FLB/CTW – $168,100 – 2018 Ave: N/A)
2018 Mega Guide Rating: D
Yet to make his NRL debut, Arthars joins the Titans from South Sydney’s feeder club the North Sydney Bears, where he played 6 games in 2018 at fullback for a reasonable return of a try, line-break and 3 tackle busts per game. Also a handy goal-kicker, Arthars has been signed to provide depth in the backline. With a stack of first graders ahead of him on the Coast, he’s unlikely to see game time this season but has plenty of promise.
Check out all of our other 2019 Club Previews below: