Titans left stranded in off-season musical chairs
They have cash at the ready and specific targets in their sights but the Titans could find themselves as the last team standing in an unprecedented off-season of rugby league musical chairs.
On the same day that their 2015 Dally M Centre of the Year, James Roberts, turned up to his first day at his new club in Brisbane, Gold Coast's own rookie of the year, Kane Elgey, hobbled from the training park with a ruptured ACL that ended his season four days into the new year.
It was the latest in a long line of setbacks that stretch back to the infamous Daly Cherry-Evans backflip last season which has left the Titans with the unenviable task of trying to piece together a roster on the run.
In the weeks prior to Christmas they made the very handy acquisition of Rabbitohs premiership-winner and Queensland Origin representative Chris McQueen and while coach Neil Henry still has a couple of spots up his sleeve, his next move will be dependent on those of opposition clubs.
Dylan Walker went to Manly, the Panthers picked up Peta Hiku, Will Hopoate joined the Bulldogs and Tim Lafai linked with the Dragons, four options who would walk into the centres at the Titans as it now stands.
Rabbitohs back-rower Chris Grevsmuhl was believed to be another target for the Titans but again they have been overlooked, the promising Townsville product to join Penrith from 2017 on a two-year deal.
Titans CEO Graham Annesley has said that the club won't pay above what it considers market value to lure players to the Gold Coast which while an admirable business stance, for the meantime leaves them fighting over players who are surplus to their existing club's requirements.
Rather than taking Dale Copley off the hands of the Broncos to assist their salary cap position, the Titans should instead target a player that Wayne Bennett doesn't want to lose and make them an offer they simply can't refuse.
Henry revealed that the Titans had been in meaningful discussions with Dragons outside back Peter Mata'utia before he signed a two-year extension to stay in Wollongong until at least the end of the 2017 season.
Not that Henry has completely given up hope.
"We talked to Pete last year and he was quite keen to move north but then he re-signed with the Dragons and now he's not off-contract," Henry said.
"It's whether or not they see him as surplus given they have signed Tim Lafai, Kurt Mann has gone there as well, [Adam] Quinlan is there and if Josh Dugan is going to play in the centres then there might be an opportunity.
"It will be up to the Dragons to release him but he'd certainly be a player we'd look at if he became available.
"We've got a few players we've got in mind that we'd like to target but it's whether or not we can negotiate that and clubs feel the need to release players as well.
"Time will tell but it's a season like no other with this movement, particularly movement after Christmas."
With less than two months until the start of the 2016 Telstra Premiership it is the unfortunate position the Titans find themselves in, having to wait to pick up the players other clubs are willing to let go.
In recent years the Titans have picked up the likes of Roberts, Daniel Mortimer, Nene Macdonald, Chad Redman and Nathaniel Peteru after the season has started and Henry didn't rule out the same situation occurring again in 2016.
"There are certainly clubs that are moving around their cap that need to shuffle players, we know that, but it's just whether or not we can make things happen," said Henry.
"It has happened before, there have been late signings and there is always a bit of movement before June 30 anyway so it might be something that we hold and it might not be until we're into the season that there is a bit of movement.
"We have got a couple of spots left in our top 25, we do have a bit of money in the cap but we don't need to rush out there at the moment."