Titans won't pay 'overs' to lure NRL stars
Titans CEO Graham Annesley insists Gold Coast remains a club that players want to play for but said the Titans will not go down the path of paying over market value in order to lure the game's top talent.
In addition to finalising his roster for the 2016 season coach Neil Henry now has the unenviable task of finding a replacement for Dally M Centre of the Year James Roberts who sensationally walked out on the club on Monday night.
Roberts signed off on a two-year contract extension mid-season but when a contract irregularity was discovered a month ago the parties were forced to come together again to work through a new contract.
An offer that was an increase on the earlier contract was tabled to Roberts and his representative Jeremy Donovan on Monday night which the 22-year-old promptly rejected, indicating his intention to test his worth on the open market.
Although currently contracted to the Sea Eagles and Bulldogs respectively, Peta Hiku and Tim Lafai shape as the primary targets for the Titans who are also still in negotiations with Rabbitohs back-rower Chris McQueen.
Former Manly teammate Anthony Watmough is doing his best to lure Hiku to the Eels but despite the high profile backflip of Daly Cherry-Evans and this latest setback Annesley is adamant that the Titans can compete in the open market with more established clubs without breaking the budget.
"No, we won't. We'll pay what we believe is the market value of players," Annesley said of the prospect of paying 'overs' for elite players.
"The offer that we tabled was an improved offer on the one that James signed a few months ago so we felt that it was competitive and James decided that this particular offer was not one that he could accept, and we accept that.
"[The coaching and recruitment staff] are comparing the value of players against other players that are on the market and against other players that are already with the club but we're not prepared to pay overs.
"We will pay what we think is an appropriate price for players that we are interested in securing.
"We had a lot of players leave the club in 2015, we've had a lot of players join us, players from other clubs that have seen this as a great opportunity as part of the rebuilding process of the Titans.
"It's obviously a great city, a great lifestyle, we've got a lot to offer here. We've got new facilities that are going to be in place next year so there is every reason for players to see this is a good option for them in the future and I'm sure that will only strengthen as we move forward.
"It may take some time but players will see this place as a good option for their career and to further their career. I've got no doubt that that's going to happen."
In addition to the 'will he, won't he' saga surrounding Cherry-Evans early in 2015, since the end of the season the Titans have farewelled Nate Myles, Aidan Sezer, Dave Taylor, Beau Falloon and Kevin Gordon.
New additions for 2016 include foundation Titan Nathan Friend, David Shillington, Zeb Taia and Tyrone Roberts and Annesley hopes to have some further names for Gold Coast fans to get excited about prior to Christmas.
"We'll try and find a replacement for James in the coming weeks and we'll move on," Annesley said.
"Our recruitment staff and obviously head coach Neil Henry are in discussions with a number of other players and have been for some time, regardless of what was going to happen with James.
"That's still to play out over the coming days and weeks and I'm sure that we'll be fielding a very competitive team next year.
"We've already made a number of very strong purchases and I know Neil is very confident about the prospects for 2016.
"It's hard to predict when we are likely to have outcomes [regarding contract negotiations] and there is more than us involved, there are other parties bidding for the services of some of the players that are currently available.
"Difficult to predict success and difficult to predict timeframe but we'll continue working through it and table competitive offers."
Gold Coast recruits since 2014
* No longer at the club