Titans captaincy Hayne's next challenge
He is one of the greatest talents in the game today but former Panthers great Scott Sattler says Jarryd Hayne's next challenge is to inspire those around him at the Titans to reach their absolute best.
With co-captain Nathan Friend having retired and senior figures in Greg Bird and Luke Douglas moving on to continue their careers in France and England respectively, there is suddenly a leadership void in the Titans' roster for 2017.
There are only four players currently on the books who were a part of the team that went down to the Cowboys in Round 26, 2015 as coach Neil Henry has dramatically overhauled a roster that had been under-performing for a number of years.
Jarrod Wallace, Dan Sarginson and Paterika Vaivai are the only recruits yet to pull on a Titans jersey but the release of Bird from the final year of his contract will give club officials the salary cap space they need to bring at least one more high-profile player to the club.
Whoever the Titans sign between now and Round 1 though won't compare in star power to Hayne who drove an immediate upsurge in ticket sales and memberships when he signed in early August, going on to play the final six games of the season for Gold Coast.
The highest-profile signing in the club's 10-year history, Sattler says it is incumbent on someone of Hayne's stature and accomplishments to now lead his new club forward, whether or not it is a responsibility he particularly craves.
"He is a leader because of his stature, it just comes with the territory," Sattler told NRL.com.
"Whether it's wanted or required, he's a natural leader because of who he is and what he stands for.
"His standing within the game, the big games that he has played throughout his career, he automatically becomes a leader whether he likes it or not.
"Maybe Jarryd Hayne needs that. Maybe he needs that direct role if Ryan James is injured that he is the skipper because maybe he needs that next challenge in his career, because he's all about challenges."
Hayne either captained or co-captained the Eels 35 times over two seasons in 2013-2014 but prop forward Ryan James is the man being groomed to lead the team out each week in 2017.
James captained the Titans against the Warriors in Round 17 but would have leaned heavily on good friend Greg Bird with the captaincy on a full-time basis, which is why Sattler believes the Titans need to recruit a player with established leadership credentials.
"Luke Lewis would have been perfect and Gold Coast would have been a perfect place for him to finish his career off at as a leader," Sattler said.
"Ryan James is the next legitimate skipper and he'll be a State of Origin player next year but he's still young in the sense of leading men into battle.
"You've got to look at their overall roster at the moment. They've lost Douglas, Bird and 'Friendy', all senior players so the first thing that is going to be affected is your work ethic with those senior players around. They're the ones that hold the bar really high, especially Friendy.
"They're at a stage where they probably have to buy a leader.
"Ash Taylor is young, Kane Elgey is young, Konrad Hurrell and Tyrone Roberts, all these players aren't legitimate leaders yet.
"The Titans are definitely in a position now that they have got some money freed up that they probably have to go to the market and find a player that may only have two or three years left in their career but have that background in leadership and consistency in getting on the field."