Legends anoint James next Titans captain
Two NRL greats believe that the most penalised player in the competition is the outstanding choice to captain the Titans in 2016.
With Daly Cherry-Evans deciding on Wednesday to stay at Manly and play alongside current Titans skipper Nate Myles at the Sea Eagles next season, the planned leadership structure on the Gold Coast took a second significant hit.
With five-eighth Aidan Sezer headed to Canberra next season and Greg Bird having been stood down from captaincy duties over the off-season, players with obvious leadership qualities are suddenly thin on the ground.
But the most decorated captain in Titans history Scott Prince and former Gold Coast Charger Scott Sattler believe that Ryan James is not only an obvious leader but would develop into an even better player with the additional captaincy responsibilities.
Due to turn 24 next month, James has played 58 first grade games since debuting for the Titans back in 2010 and was brought into Laurie Daley's extended Blues squad for a taste of Origin camp ahead of Game One.
Sattler, a Gold Coast resident and commentator on Channel Nine's Intrust Super Cup coverage, said that it was important to now promote from within rather than looking to import a player to captain the team in 2016 and beyond.
"I truly believe that they've got a couple of potential leaders sitting right in front of them that are Gold Coast boys that bleed the colour of blue and gold," Sattler told NRL.com.
"I think that [Titans coach] Neil Henry has a really good opportunity here to start from scratch and create a captain and I might be a lone ranger here but I really think that Ryan James is a potential captain.
"A position like that, a lot of people might think he is a little bit young for it but he's a person that could curb some of his decisions in a game to be more club focussed rather that individual focussed if given the captaincy."
Through 12 rounds James has conceded 21 penalties in 11 games – an extraordinary eight more than the next worst offender in the NRL, Manly's Matt Ballin.
With an aggressive approach to the game that has him on theverge of State of Origin selection for New South Wales, such ill discipline may not scream leadership but Sattler likened his style to that of his father, legendary South Sydney skipper John Sattler.
In his book, Glory, Glory, Sattler speaks of being named captain by coach Clive Churchill at 25 years of age prior to the 1967 season and how the responsibility saved him from an early exit from rugby league.
"There was a distinct feeling at Souths that if I continued my rough-house approach on the field, I might play myself out of the game," John Sattler wrote. "I knew there were several top referees who had their eye on me. Sometimes I felt prisoner of my own reputation.
"The captaincy would impose responsibility and accountability on me. Clive, in his crafty way, knew that, as captain, I wouldn't allow myself to fail my teammates. I had no real ambition to be captain, but only a weak soul would baulk at the challenge."
The Titans' inaugural captain alongside Luke Bailey in 2007, Scott Prince echoed Sattler's sentiments, saying that James is ready to captain the club now.
"If you look at Ryan James, he's thereabouts sniffing around Origin," Prince said. "He's playing well too. I reckon he's ready now.
"He is a Titan; a local boy who has come through the ranks and definitely holding his own."
Vice-captain William Zillman remains contracted to the Titans through until the end of the 2017 season and Titans coach Neil Henry said there are other senior players – as well as James – with claims to the captaincy.
"I think there are a number of leaders that will have to step up," Henry said.
"Ryan James is a leader of the future and a local product as well, young Kane Elgey has got leadership in him in the position he plays in as well and Luke Douglas has been around for a long time.
"We'll have people that will step up in that leadership role."