Titans rediscover community connection
More than a PR exercise to trumpet the arrival of a new naming rights sponsor, the Titans' unveiling of The Aquis Group in the heart of Surfers Paradise on Friday signalled their re-emergence as a club the Gold Coast community can be proud of.
Drivers passing by the sun-bathed glitter strip enthusiastically shouted out the name of centre sensation James Roberts while the Queensland under-15 team huddled around for a chance to get a glimpse of their idols and subsequently meet them, photos on phones soon flooding social media.
Roberts, captain Nate Myles, Ryan James, Kane Elgey, William Zillman and Josh Hoffman were in high demand from locals keen for a 'selfie' in a setting synonymous with Surfers but famously off limits to the first members of the Titans back in 2007.
Proudly sitting within the top eight on the back of successive wins against the Wests Tigers and Bulldogs, club representatives and NRL stars in full playing kit walked tall and spoke passionately about the future, no longer ashamed of the events of the recent past that had stripped away community confidence.
The Aquis logo will proudly front the Gold Coast jersey for the next two years starting from Saturday's all-important clash with the Warriors, giving players such as Josh Hoffman greater cause for optimism as to what the future holds.
The club's most high-profile signing in the off-season, Hoffman could have been excused for wondering what he had gotten himself into as the Titans spun from one drama to the next in his first few months at the club but said that the support of Aquis is another positive step forward.
"I'm very confident with where the club's heading and with a major sponsor like Aquis it's definitely going to boost the club and only better things will come in the future," Hoffman told NRL.com.
"It means a lot of certainty. As a player we can really look forward to what's to come.
"It's my first year at the club and with everything that's happened in the past this is definitely a step forward for everyone including the staff and players.
"There has been a bit of a change in the way players have been carrying themselves but in saying that nothing's really changed with the way we've trained and the way we've been playing our games.
"Outside of football everyone's got a hop in their step after this big announcement and hopefully we can get a win against the Warriors for the Gold Coast fans."
The Aquis Group has already begun to invest heavily in Queensland through property purchases in Surfers Paradise, Varisty Lakes and the Patinak Farm assets at Canungra and CEO Justin Fung said attaching his company to a Gold Coast sporting team was a highly-valued opportunity.
Rather than being put off by the Titans' recent off-field struggles, Mr Fung said it was in the club's hour of need that such support was so critical.
"I'm a big American sports fan, I understand clubs go through a bit of turmoil from time to time," said Mr Fung.
"To be there during the tough times is probably the most important thing and to be there to support them when they don't have the sponsorship, that's when they need the help.
"Of course we took that into account and that was one of the reasons that pushed us.
"We know sports teams are part of the heart and soul of every community and to have this opportunity with these guys here, it was something we jumped on.
"We're looking forward to building on this and giving the community as much as we can as we progress with our endeavours here on the Gold Coast.
"We saw the situation with the Titans and their lack of a naming sponsor and we realised it was the perfect opportunity for us to provide some help."
Titans CEO Graham Annesley, a tower of strength in the face of much adversity over the past six months, heralded the partnership as a significant moment in the club's history and hinted that negotiations had begun already to extend the agreement beyond 2016.
"It's a great day for the club. It's an agreement you would have seen that runs for this year and next year but we're already in negotiations to extend beyond that period," Annesley said.
"It's a very significant sponsorship financially, it's a great commercial return for the club and we'll be doing everything we can to make it a mutually beneficial partnership for Aquis.
"We think that financially this sets the club on the right path for the future. It goes hand in hand with the other steps that we've taken to improve the governance of the club, to improve the financial management of the club.
"It is a fantastic deal for the club but also great to have a company of this nature involved with us as well.
"It's all upside for us."