Titans coach Neil Henry says he will have no hesitation in handing exciting young halfback Ashley Taylor the reins for Round 1 following the devastating news that Kane Elgey has been ruled out for the season.
Elgey suffered a season-ending ACL injury in the final few moments of the first training session of 2016 on Monday, a further cruel blow for Gold Coast fans who saw their team's leading try-scorer in 2015 James Roberts paraded in Broncos colours for the first time just hours earlier.
The Titans' rookie of the year last year and the 2014 Holden Cup Player of the Year, Elgey had been one of the club's most impressive performers in pre-season training and had been elevated into a leadership role despite being just 21 years of age and having playing only 16 games in the NRL.
A player with an equally impressive junior pedigree having represented the Junior Kangaroos and named the 2015 Holden Cup Player of the Year, Taylor looks now likely to get first shot at developing a halves combination with Knights recruit Tyrone Roberts who will assume the senior playmaking role.
After suffering sickening compound fractures of two fingers on his right hand in his NRL debut for the Broncos in Round 26 last season, Taylor is currently restricted to around 70 per cent of contact work in training but Henry has faith he will be available for the club's pre-season trials and ready for Round 1 against Newcastle.
"He should be [right for the first trial], the hand's improving," Henry said.
"We won't risk him if he's not right but all things being equal he should be right to go.
"He handled himself well in his 23 minutes on debut and was very solid defensively and had a couple of nice kicks.
"He's a kid that's been training full-time with the Broncos for a couple of seasons now so he's sort of used to that intensity and speed of first grade. I've got every confidence in the kid."
While an opportunity may have opened up for Taylor, the path ahead for Elgey is a torturous nine-month rehabilitation just when his NRL career was on the verge of taking full flight.
When he was introduced in Round 4 last season the Titans went on to win four of their next five games that elevated them into the top eight, albeit momentarily.
He will celebrate his 22nd birthday on January 14 with the fresh scars that come with such a serious injury which occurred in the most innocuous of circumstances.
"We were doing a bit of a defensive drill and there was no real contact in it," Henry recalled. "I think he just propped on his left leg and twisted at the same time.
"He felt a bit of a pain in his knee and we didn't think it was too serious but as he cooled down and when he went to see Paul Ohmsen, our doctor, it confirmed that he'd ruptured his ACL.
"I spoke to him last night once we got the scan results through and it was confirmed and he is very shattered as you would be. It's terrible news for him personally and for the club. We're going to miss him, he's a big part of our team.
"He's young and he's resilient and he'll just have to get over this and get back into his rehab. Hopefully we can get him operated on next week and we move on."