Gold Coast co-captain Greg Bird has spoken about the dramatic loss of Jamal Idris just weeks before the start of the 2014 season but insists the Titans have lost nothing by luring Brad Tighe to the club.
Bird and Tighe were junior representative teammates coming through the ranks at the Newcastle Knights and while Bird moved to Cronulla to earn his NRL debut, Tighe went on to play 44 games for the Knights before moving to the Panthers, where he has spent the past six seasons.
The speed of Idris's departure was matched by Tighe's arrival on the Gold Coast on Wednesday with the 29-year-old leaving Penrith at 5am to make a 7am flight from Sydney to Coolangatta. He wasted no time in acclimatising, heading straight for the training paddock where he impressed in his performance in the dreaded beep test before speaking with the media.
On face value Tighe appeared to be the pawn in the manoeuvring to get Idris from the Titans to the Panthers on compassionate grounds but Bird believes his club has acquired the services of a player blessed with rare talent.
"I'm stoked to have him. The last couple of years I've seen him it's been some of the best football I've seen him play," Bird told NRL.com.
"When we played Harold Matts (under-16s) and SG Ball (under-18s) together he was always a five-eighth and I remember him being one of the best five-eighths I'd played with.
"We've been the victims of some of Tighesy's best games. Last year he scored a 'hatty' (hat-trick) against us at the end of the season and blew us apart and the year before he pretty much did the same.
"I know 'Carty' (Titans coach John Cartwright) holds him in pretty high regard considering the hidings he's given us and I'm looking forward to having him up here."
Speaking as a Titan for the very first time, Tighe rejected the suggestion that he was pushed out of Penrith to make way for Idris. With two years still to run on his contract at the Panthers, Tighe said it was the chance to make a fresh start that swayed his decision.
"It was my decision in the end. It was left to me and I wanted to come up and have that change," Tighe said.
"I was contracted [at Penrith] for another two years so I got the opportunity to come up here and I'm pretty excited.
"I needed a fresh start. I'd been at Penrith for six years so bring the family up here and start again and hopefully have a good season."
Not due back at pre-season training until January 20, Bird admitted that the quickness of Idris's departure did take him by surprise despite being aware of ongoing issues with the former Origin and Test star.
"I've spoken to the administration a few times. It was an ongoing thing. It wasn't just a flick of the switch and he wants to go, it had been coming for a while," Bird said.
"I had knowledge of it but I've been away for a while... It was a bit of a shock when it actually came to fruition.
"It's disappointing we're losing him but it's for the right reasons and I hope he goes on with his career at Penrith. He's definitely going to be a star of the future if he can stay on the paddock."
Tighe will be joined on the Gold Coast by partner Sarah and four-year-old daughter Ella. The only difficult conversation he is still to have is explaining to Ella that the family won't actually be living at Movie World.
"It happened all at once but I'm excited, it's a fresh start for me and my family," said Tighe, who has played 157 NRL games across nine seasons.
"My missus is just as excited as I am and the little one, she can't wait to get up here and be near the beaches.
"She starts school next year so what better place to start than on the 'Goldie'."