Fate hands Titans its latest white knight
The contract bungle that saw electrifying centre James Roberts walk out on the club in December may turn out to be the making of the Titans if new head of football Brian Canavan can turn the perennial strugglers into a premiership force.
The Titans last qualified for the Telstra Premiership finals in 2010 and given the departure of Roberts and the season-ending injury to Kane Elgey bookmakers were quick to install the club as overwhelming wooden-spoon favourites.
Gold Coast have beaten home only two teams over the past two seasons and the loss of Roberts due to a forged signature on a contract amendment was seen as almost as much of a disaster as Daly Cherry-Evans' decision to turn his back on the club to stay with Manly just days prior to the Round 13 deadline that was subsequently abolished.
But the resignation of football manager Scott Clark over the Roberts drama and the recent departure of head of media and operations Ian Buchanan – a foundation staff member of the Titans – gave CEO Graham Annesley the room to recruit one of the game's most respected administrators.
A previous CEO of the club, Canavan oversaw the football operations at the Roosters from 2012 and helped to build a team that failed to make the finals for two straight years all the way to the premiership in the space of 12 months.
A makeover of those proportions would seem beyond the Titans just a month out from the start of the 2016 season but Annesley believes that with Canavan's addition as chief operating officer that Gold Coast can become one of the NRL's most powerful clubs.
"We had no clue that Brian was going to become available," Annesley explained.
"We had to make some amendments to the original structure with the departure of Ian Buchanan and Scott Clark but it provided us with an opportunity to combine both of those functions to a large degree and then get someone of Brian's seniority and experience.
"The club's been its own worst enemy over recent years. We're trying to get our act together both on and off the field.
"It may not be obvious to the casual observer the changes that have been made but we've made enormous changes since the time I've been here and the club will continue to evolve.
"Sometimes these things work out for the better and in the case of bringing Brian on board I'm very confident that it's going to be a great acquisition for our club.
"Brian's reason for accepting the offer to come here is probably no different to mine in that having been involved in the game all of our lives we both recognise the tremendous potential that this area has.
"It has not yet by any stretch of the imagination reached its potential and there's no reason why this club, at some point in the not-too-distant future, can't be one of the powerhouses of the competition."
Restructuring the club's management structure has been a key focus of Annesley since his appointment as club CEO more than two years ago.
Former majority shareholder, executive director of football and founder Michael Searle has severed all ties to the Titans and the board has recently expanded to include prominent local identities in Tony Hickey, Trish Hogan and Professor Ned Pankhurst along with Australian Paralympic Committee CEO Lynne Anderson.
By August the football and administrative arms of the Titans will be reunited in a purpose-built, state-of-the-art facility at Parkwood International and Canavan said the path Annesley has put the club on was a major factor in his decision to move to the Gold Coast.
"Graham and I have lived in this environment for a long time and we know where the landmines are," Canavan said. "It's excitement for me and I'd like to think I can add some energy and another resource to the club.
"I've known Graham for years and years and seen him as a leader all the way through in our game and it was just an opportunity to work under him and let him expand his tentacles form the club's point of view and I can handle more operational sort of stuff.
"It was certainly an attraction for me to join the club, having Graham at the helm."