Nigel Wall,, NRL.com
With their strong roster, the experience gained from 2012 and some new talent coming on board for 2013, things should only get better for the Titans.
Strengths: Colossus Dave Taylor’s arrival at Skilled Park ensures John Cartwright’s team will boast not only one of the biggest and most aggressive packs in the competition in 2013 but arguably the most creative.
In 2012 the Titans upped the ante in second-phase play, with the likes of Greg Bird and Nate Myles mostly responsible for boosting their overall offloads from a staid third fewest in 2011 to a dazzling fourth most. Taylor led the way for offloads by a second-rower in 2012 so oppositions will certainly have their work cut out for them stopping the ball-playing of the massive Gold Coast pack. Luke Bailey, Luke Douglas, Ryan James, Matt White, Ashley Harrison, Bird, Myles, Taylor… that’s some potency up front. A new captain – likely to come from Ashley Harrison, Luke Bailey or Nate Myles – will be a breath of fresh air.
Weaknesses: It’s impossible to ignore the elephant in the room; ie founding captain and chief playmaker Scott Prince’s unexpected departure to the Broncos. It leaves coach Cartwright with a massive challenge to fill the vital No.7 role. Aidan Sezer’s pleasing development in the No.6 last year, having played every game from Round 7 onwards, would seem to guarantee him the five-eighth spot (he was their 2012 Rookie of the Year and recently extended his contract through 2015). That leaves Jordan Rankin, Beau Henry and Albert Kelly – each fringe first-graders – as his likely halfback options. However, he may also look to shift hooker Matt Srama from dummy-half to one off the ruck (promoting Beau Falloon to the No. 9) to provide some stability and consistency early in the season.
With a team’s fortunes relying so heavily on the deeds of their halfback it’s imperative they fill the void from the outset – not to mention with some degree of flair given Prince set up 17 tries and recorded 21 line-break assists for teammates in 2012.
Also, there’s a potential downside to Dave Taylor’s recruitment – the Titans were a bumbling bunch in 2012, registering the equal most errors of all teams. Unfortunately for all the positives Taylor brings, hanging on to the Steeden and not pushing plays are his Achilles heels. It’s certainly something Cartwright will have to drill into the ex-Rabbitoh. The question is: is it better to let him play his natural game, or to rein him in?