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Best 17 of the 16 team era: Gold Coast Titans

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA – APRIL 07: Scott Prince of the Titans looks to pass the ball during the round six NRL match between the Gold Coast Titans and the Sydney Roosters at Skilled Park on April 7, 2012 on the Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

The Gold Coast Titans became the NRL’s 16th team in 2007, kicking off the era with a season where they avoided the bottom four, winning ten games under the coaching of John Cartwright.

Cartwright would remain in charge of the team until mid-2014, with a pair of finals appearances in 2009 and 2010. Neil Henry then took over, but it has bee a tale of woe ever since, with only two finals appearances, and both of those via an eighth-place finish.

The second of those came in 2021, but the club fell back down the table in 2022 under Justin Holbrook.

The pressure now lives with the Titans to make themselves successful as the NRL expands to 17 teams.

A reminder that the only qualification to be considered for selection in a best 17 at a club is that the player must have played more career games for that club where they have played for multiple between the 2007 and 2022 period.

Here is the Titans’ best.

Fullback: Preston Campbell

The Titans have three excellent fullbacks to choose from, in current weapon AJ Brimson, the club’s second-highest games holder William Zillman, and superstar Preston Campbell.

Zillman played 156 games for the Titans and was a stalwart of the club, having made the switch to Parkwood in 2009, but on raw talent, it’s impossible to pick him ahead of Brimson or Campbell.

Brimson has already played State of Origin, and is the Titans most important player, but has struggled with injuries in recent times and is yet to cement his legacy.

Preston Campbell though, who spent the final five years of his career at the Titans after making the switch for their first season in 2007, was the club’s first star, and deserves selection in this side at the back.

He did spend a handful of games in the halves during his time on the Gold Coast, but was an excellent number one.

Wingers: Anthony Don and David Mead

Anthony Don hands down takes the first wing spot. The Titans’ third-highest games holder, he debuted in 2013 and only recently hung up the boots.

In that time, he played 152 games and had a scoring strike rate of better than one in every two, crossing for 85 tries.

The battle for the other spot is a three-way race between David Mead, Kevin Gordon and Phillip Sami, whose career with the club continues.

He has scored 40 tries in 87 games, but ultimately winds up third in this race. Gordon, who scored 58 tries in 118 games, at one point was on the cusp of State of Origin selection for New South Wales, so good was his form.

But it’s hard to overlook Mead. His career may have dragged on a little longer than he was at the peak of his powers with time at the Broncos, but in his 147 games for the Gold Coast following his 2009 debut, he never waivered, crossing for 67 tries.

Centres: Brian Kelly and Luke O’Dwyer

The Titans’ centres will be one of the weaker spots on the field in this side, not helped by the fact Konrad Hurrell, James Roberts, and Dale Copley are ineligible as they played more games for other clubs.

That said, there are only four realistic options being Patrick Herbert, Brian Kelly, Luke O’Dwyer and Steven Michaels.

Brian Kelly is the first selected – up to 78 games with the club, he has scored 33 tries, and while inconsistencies still litter his game, he is almost an automatic selection most weeks for Justin Holbrook, and has been since his 2019 debut.

Luke O’Dwyer was more of a utility, but does take the other spot ahead of both Herbert and Michaels.

Halves: Mat Rogers and Scott Prince

The halfback is the easiest selection in the entire team – while Ashley Taylor and Jamal Fogarty both had good moments with the Titans, neither come close to knocking Scott Prince out of this side.

He wears the number seven jersey, as he did turning his tenure at the club wherehe played 124 games, scoring 32 tries and kicking 292 goals in that time.

The number six jumper is a lot tougher to work out, with Aidan Sezer the obvious option but ineligible through playing more games for the Raiders.

Tanah Boyd is the current number six but hasn’t done enough to be considered, while Ashley Taylor could potentially be flipped into the six.

It’s going to be Mat Rogers who wins the spot though. He played a mix of positions during his time at the Titans, but fits best at six.

Middle forwards:

The Titans have an unbelievably strong group of middle forwards to select from. From the early days of Luke Bailey and Ashley Harrison, to the current crop of Tino Fa’asuamaleaui and Moeaki Foutaika. Once you add Jarrod Wallace, Michael Henderson, Matt White and Ryan James to that mix, it’s clear there are going to be some unlucky ones missing out.

And that’s without even considering Luke Douglas, who is ineligible through playing more games for the Sharks.

Ashley Harrison, who is one of the most solid forwards in recent times, will line up in the number 13 jersey after playing that role strongly for the Titans.

That leaves the two front-row positions, for which we will take Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, who has been elevated to current club captain despite his youthful age, and Luke Bailey, who was the real leader of the forward pack in the early years of the club.

Hooker: Nathan Friend

The Titans have some strong options lining up to play dummy half. Nathan Peats, Matt Srama, Beau Falloon and Nathan Friend are the obvious options.

Falloon and Srama were both at the club at the same time and split duties, and could have gone on to have excellent careers if not for injuries and other incidents which hampered their progress.

Nathan Peats played 80 games for the Titans, having originally been forced out of the Parramatta Eels due to salary cap issues – a real workhorse and three-time State of Origin representative for the Blues, it’s difficult to overlook him.

But we will. Nathan Friend played 100 games for the Titans, and arguably enjoyed the best form of his career during his time at the club.

Second-rowers: Mark Minichiello and Greg Bird

Mark Minichiello is the easiest selection in the second-row. The club’s games record holder, he was a constant force at Robina between 2007 and 2014. He never cracked State of Origin, but wasn’t far away either during an excellent career.

The other spot is far less certain. Greg Bird, Jai Arrow and Beau Fermor are the obvious candidates, with David Fifita, Kevin Proctor, David Taylor, Bodene Thompson and Anthony Laffranchi all ineligible.

Beau Fermor is the current player who is setting the bar higher and higher with each passing week, but it’s impossible to name him ahead of Greg Bird, who did plenty for the club during his time there.

He played in multiple position across his 129 games on the Gold Coast between 2010 and 2016, but spent more games on the edge than anywhere else and deserves the spot as a leader of the side.

Interchange:

AJ Brimson missed out on the starting side, but we will take him on the bench. Able to play fullback or five-eighth, he can cover injuries there, while others – like Luke O’Dwyer, Mat Rogers or Greg Bird – can shift around the team as needed to cover problems that Brimson can’t fix.

His talent is simply too good to ignore.

We will then take one edge forward, with Beau Fermor edging out Jai Arrow for the spot.

The two middle third spots off the bench are occupied by Moeaki Fotuaika and Jarrod Wallace, who just edge out Ryan James, but by the slimmest of margins.

Titans’ best 17 of the 16-team era

1. Preston Campbell
2. Anthony Don
3. Brian Kelly
4. Luke O’Dwyer
5. David Mead
6. Mat Rogers
7. Scott Prince
8. Luke Bailey
9. Nathan Friend
10. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
11. Mark Minichiello
12. Greg Bird
13. Ashley Harrison
14. AJ Brimson
15. Beau Fermor
16. Moeaki Fotuaika
17. Jarrod Wallace

Source:: ZeroTackle

    

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