The Gold Coast hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Rugby League. There have been three prior attempts at life on the Gold Coast in the form of the Giants, Seagulls & Chargers between 1988 & 1998. It is fair to say that not one of those teams covered themselves in glory and each one ended in failure.
As a comparator, Brisbane Broncos and Newcastle Knights were also admitted in the same year of 1988 and they have won eight premierships between them.
The NRL sought to revive the Gold Coast push and introduced the Titans in 2007. It is arguable that they are an upgrade on the three prior teams, having made the finals in 2009 and 2010. However, they have struggled to retain stability in their playing list and flashy signings haven’t worked out for them ie. Jamal Idris leaving after two years of a five year contract. That combination has led to the inevitable decline in crowd numbers over the last three seasons.
Since late 2014, the Club has made headlines for all the wrong reasons starting off with the Club being unable to afford to remain at their ‘Centre of Excellence’ base at Robina due to an inability to afford the rent. They are currently in temporary accommodation and still looking for an administration and training home just a week away from the start of the NRL season. If that was not enough, the Titans are without a major sponsor for the 2015 season and given recent media attention, are unlikely to find one thereby exacerbating financial pressures.
With two strikes on the scoresheet, the third strike came in the form of a number of players being charged by the Queensland Crime Commission with drug charges. Some of those charged, Greg Bird, David Taylor, Kalifa Faifai Loa and Beau Falloon would have formed an important part of the team in 2015 and have all been stood down until further notice. They could well miss the entire season.
Checking Nick Tedeschi’s NRL Punter’s Guide, he says as follows of those players:
Bird – Blue chip player – one of the strongest runners in the game, a staple of the Australian and NSW teams, a big game player.
Taylor – was at times devastating in 2014. His freakish combination of size and skill only countered by an equal lack of football intelligence.
Falloon – Club’s top hooker. Had best season in 2014 winning the Club’s player of the year gong.
Loa – Probably third in line for a wing spot but is a better player than Gordon and Mead and should get a look in at some point.
Earlier today, the NRL in the form of CEO Dave Smith indicated that the NRL will be taking over the troubled franchise. He says there are no thoughts of relocation or of winding the team up. Positive sentiments indeed, but the club is a basket case!
One wonders, given what has transpired since the end of the 2014 season, why it took so long for NRL HQ to step in. There were certainly enough indicators for much earlier intervention.
If as expected the Titans have a poor season on field (Tom Waterhouse had them at $6.00 for the wooden spoon – he probably has stopped taking bets on them with recent developments!), sponsors and crowds will stay away and make saving the franchise that much harder. Perhaps the Titans are that badly broken that even the NRL can’t save them.