Titans to go from boys to men
Coach John Cartwright reached the "End of the Road" and senior players found that "It's So Hard To Say Goodbye to Yesterday" but Titans five-eighth Aidan Sezer says the club's greatest transformation is about to take place as young players go from boys to men.
Up to a third of the Titans' playing roster has changed from 2014 and with a new head coach in Neil Henry, new assistant coaches in Terry Matterson and Rohan Smith and a new training base at the salubrious The Southport School, the club is intent on a fresh start laden with success.
Competition leaders after six rounds, the Titans went from one crisis to the next this year as deteriorating on-field performances led to inaugural coach Cartwright stepping down and founding father Michael Searle relinquishing his place on the board and his role as the general manager of football.
A salary cap fine and threat of further sanctions on the back of payment discrepancies to former captain Scott Prince came to a head on the club's last days at their former base in Robina where the high-tech altitude chamber has now been traded in for a stifling demountable building housed at The Southport School known as the 'hot box'.
Given the foundations of the club have been stripped from the current playing roster, the development of new leaders at the Titans will be crucial to any further success and Sezer is intent to be one of those to step forth.
"It's a transitional period at this club and I think a few of us young boys have got to step up and become men now," said the 23-year-old who now has 53 NRL games to his name.
"A few of our leaders have departed over the last few years in Luke Bailey, [Mark] Minichiello and even going back a couple of years with 'Princey' so a few of us boys need to step up and become men and be leaders in this team and that's something I'm looking forward to."
Despite finishing the season with his body more banged up than a test vehicle from Top Gear, co-captain Nate Myles returned to pre-season training in superb shape, and minus the trademark bushy beard.
With Greg Bird still on Four Nations duty with the Kangaroos Myles is casting his eye over the next generation of Titans leaders and believes there are a number of candidates coming to the fore but that it is incumbent on every player to take on greater responsibility.
"I think it's up to everyone to stand up a bit more. There are some young guys who are closing in on 100 games and I think everyone just needs to take on more of a role in terms of leadership," Myles said from the club's new training base.
"That will show out over the pre-season – I wasn't here much last week but I'm sure I'll get more of an insight in the coming weeks."
The loss of Sezer to a pectoral injury less than halfway through the season played havoc with the Titans' cohesion through the middle part of the season before he returned to play alongside Daniel Mortimer for the final five games of the season.
In addition to solidifying that combination, Sezer is excited about developing his game under Neil Henry and producing the best football of his career.
"Besides the obvious it's been very tough. I don't think I've started a pre-season in this sort of fashion ever," Sezer said. "It's been the toughest of the opening to a pre-season and it's only going to get tougher but all the boys are excited about the change.
"Even with the coaching staff, you can just tell they're a thorough group and we're going to get the best out of our squad this year and I'm looking forward to it on an individual note as well.
"I look forward to working with Neil and he's a great coach. He's been there and done it all before so hopefully I can improve under him as well."
Behind Sezer and Mortimer there are no recognised halves with NRL experience in the entire Titans squad but there are a trio of talented youngsters waiting in the wings.
Kane Elgey was named the under-20s competition Player of the Year, Christian Hazard is a highly-regarded prospect who was beset by a raft of injuries last season while Jamal Fogarty is match-hardened after spending the majority of 2014 playing with Tweed Heads in the Intrust Super Cup.
"Kane Elgey and a few of the other boys, they've got to stand up and if they've got the opportunity to come into the pre-season injury free there are no excuses not to have the speed and strength needed to play in the NRL," Myles said.
"It's all laid out on a platter for you so you've just got to take that the best way forward and put pressure on the halves we have there.
"The guys we have on now are fantastic players. No doubt Aidan Sezer has got the talent, injury-wise he wasn't too fortunate last year, Daniel Mortimer's been there and done it and won premierships and it also puts a little bit of pressure on the younger guys coming through."