Ikin: Hoffman Titans' No.1 option
Call him a Broncos discard if you will but Fox Sports commentator Ben Ikin believes Josh Hoffman is a valuable addition to the Gold Coast Titans roster and that coach Neil Henry should waste little time in making him fullback.
Having arrived on the Gold Coast for the first time as a Titan on Monday, Hoffman fronted up to join his new teammates for his first day of pre-season training on Tuesday despite only returning from Four Nations commitments with New Zealand a week earlier.
Hoffman failed to see any game-time throughout the course of the tournament and joins Gold Coast seeking to re-establish his credentials as a first-class NRL fullback.
A Kiwi Test representative on five occasions to date, Hoffman has played 73 of his 109 career NRL games in the No.1 jersey at Brisbane but had to wait until Round 19 before he was selected at fullback. With the off-season acquisitions of Anthony Milford and now Darius Boyd, it became clear that he would be given little opportunity to play there in future by coach Wayne Bennett.
Just hours after Boyd was welcomed back to Brisbane on Monday, Hoffman was unveiled as the Titans' most significant signing since Dave Taylor two years ago and Ikin is adamant he should be preferred over both William Zillman and David Mead when Henry names his team for Round 1.
"I really like Josh Hoffman as a player," Ikin told NRL.com. "Will Zillman has been one of those guys who has promised a lot and delivered in patches. There's no doubting his talent but he just hasn't become the tier one fullback that we all hoped he would. He'll still make a great contribution to the Titans wherever he plays but Josh Hoffman is a pretty busy fullback.
"I think he comes in the same mould as Sharks fullback) Michael Gordon. Not a great creator for others but has a real good sense of opportunity and fantastic running game so I think he's a great pick-up for the Gold Coast.
"If there's a weakness in his game it's that he's not a great passer of the football but Neil Henry's a smart enough coach to understand what kind of fullback they've got.
"What you've got is a No.1 who is going to turn up and throw everything into his game each week. He knows how to inject himself, where to inject himself, he's good on the edge, particularly strong through the middle third if you're going to use him for any of those ruck plays and he'll combine well with(five-eighth) Aidan Sezer.
"I think he's the No.1 choice and he's a good pick-up, particularly considering how late they got him."
The 26-year-old was reportedly close to leaving the Broncos prior to the start of the 2014 season following the club's recruitment of Bulldogs fullback Ben Barba before going on to play his first 15 games of the year at five-eighth.
He and his young family will continue to live in Brisbane and he says he holds no ill feelings towards the Broncos, instead preferring to focus on achieving some lofty goals with his new club.
"I've been at the Broncos since the first year of under-20s and it was a big decision to make, being at the club for that long," Hoffman said. "I was very happy and grateful at the time that Wayne gave me the opportunity to explore other clubs and I'm glad I got the opportunity to stay in Brisbane.
"There's no ill feeling with the Broncos. They've given me this opportunity and all I can be is grateful to the Broncos and Wayne and I'm very happy at the moment.
"I'm very happy with how everything was handled and it was very professional and I'm looking forward to the years to come and making a home here at the Titans and hopefully winning a premiership.
"I'm just looking to hopefully one day win a premiership and I'm hoping that will be with the Gold Coast Titans. That's something that I've got in mind, maybe winning a premiership and hopefully I can do it with the playing group that's here now."
Ikin's endorsement will come as a blow to Zillman who was forced to come back in the centres from injury when David Mead parlayed a cameo stint at the back into a Country Origin jersey.
Zillman has played fullback for the Titans on more occasions than any other player in the club's history but is now looking likely to be shifted into the centres to accommodate Hoffman's arrival.
Mead's taste of life at the back also left him wanting more and led to reports that he was looking to exit the club in search of a permanent fullback position elsewhere, despite the fact he is contracted to the Titans through until the end of the 2016 season.