Transfer Lounge: Titanic shift - Idris to left centre
Explosive edge runner Jamal Idris is headed for a new home on the left side of the rugby league field as the Titans look to rebound from their horrific 2011 season.
It had been anticipated that high-profile signing Idris would play at right centre for the Gold Coast, linking with the electrifying David Mead – who scored a club record 16 tries in 2011 – to form one of the most potent attacking partnerships in the NRL.
However, Titans coach John Cartwright told NRL.com he was confident that could still happen with Idris playing left centre and combining with speedster Kevin Gordon when he makes his return from the serious ACL injury that restricted him to just two games in 2011.
This would allow the Titans’ other centre signing for next season, former Stormer and Rabbitoh Beau Champion, to retain his favoured right-side position.
“The plan is for Jamal to play left centre,” Cartwright revealed. “I don’t think Jamal is just a right-side player – he played a Test for Australia on the left side of the field this year so he’s obviously up to it,” Cartwright said. “And we have Beau Champion now who is also a right centre so that’s something we have to look at.”
Cartwright said he had been impressed by Idris’ attitude and application during their early training sessions.
“You hear a lot of stuff but I don’t buy into any of that. Jamal has been totally focussed and professional – I’m sure he’s going to have a huge year.”
Idris was the most difficult centre to contain in the NRL in 2011, leading the league for tackle-breaks with 117 – 14 more than Broncos’ Test centre Justin Hodges. Cartwright is hoping his shift to the left side of the field will help reinvigorate the Titan’s flagging attack after they recorded just 66 line-breaks in 2011, the least by any team in NRL history.
Cartwright is also excited by forward additions Nate Myles and Luke Douglas and the solid base they would provide.
“I thought Douglas was a little unlucky not to play representative footy this year and Myles can play long minutes, somewhere in the tight four, whether it’s with the 8 or the 13 on his back.”
Also, Cartwright is confident his skipper Scott Prince will bounce back after a poor-by-his-standards 2011.
“I actually think Scotty is going to have his best season for us yet,” he enthused. “It was difficult for him last year with Mat Rogers’ retirement… we’ll be looking to get him some consistency in the No.6.”
Tellingly, Prince’s struggles came as the Titans used eight different halves combinations during their wooden spoon season.
The battle for the No. 6 jersey in 2012 will be fought between William Zillman, Beau Henry and possibly new buy Aidan Sezer (ex-Bulldogs). They also have the option of moving Greg Bird from the back of the scrum to accommodate Myles – although Cartwright would not be drawn into speculation.
Cartwright said discipline would be a major focus of the Titans’ training over the off-season after their inability to hang on to the ball for long periods in games had been a major contributor to their disappointing free-fall out of the top eight this year.
The Titans were among the three worst sides for completions, getting through their sets just 71 per cent of the time – with only the Roosters bigger offenders.
Worse, they committed 131 errors within the first three rucks of an attacking set (worst in the NRL) and averaged the equal most errors per game (nine).
“Those sorts of numbers killed us this year so we’ll be making sure that doesn’t repeat,” Cartwright said.