Cornish on verge of full Titans contract
NRL debutant Tyler Cornish is close to earning a full contract with the Gold Coast Titans if he can continue to deliver similar performances to that which he produced against the Eels on Friday night.
With Jarryd Hayne sidelined for at least a month and William Zillman now looking at a similar timeframe to recover from a calf injury, not even the potential NRL return of Daniel Vidot after a groin injury will squeeze Cornish out of the side to play North Queensland on Saturday night.
Former Cowboy and Panther Chris Grevsmuhl could also come into contention to make his debut for the club this week after the Titans confirmed his signing for the next two seasons but the back row stocks have not been hit nearly as hard as the outside backs.
Selected at fullback last week, Cornish had to shift to the wing when Zillman left the field in the 17th minute and scored a crucial try that allowed the Titans to level the scores heading into half-time.
Recruited by Intrust Super Cup club Burleigh to play in the halves this year, Cornish impressed during a six-week pre-season trial with the Titans and had his stay extended until the trials where he produced some eye-catching moments.
Considered a "project player" by Titans officials who confirmed there is still a place on their roster for 2017, the 22-year-old is not yet a fully-fledged member of the club's roster but that will change if he can make the most of opportunities that will come his way in the coming weeks.
Believing a move to the Gold Coast would provide the best opportunity to finally earn an NRL call-up, Cornish's family made the trek from Goulburn to watch him take on the Eels and see his boyhood dream come true.
"I'm a big family person and to make the move up here was really big but I honestly thought it was my best opportunity to make first grade and it turns out it was a good move," said Cornish, who had his mother, father, siblings, fiancée, future in-laws and grandmother all in attendance.
"I came up here with the expectation of trying to get a spot in the 17. I got thrown into the halves and fullback so I was that utility sort of player and once we started to get a few injuries I was thinking that I might get a run.
"I've been waiting for this day for a while now and the hard work pays off."
A highly regarded junior talent who spent two years playing under-20s for the Roosters, Cornish was included in the New South Wales Origin pathways program in 2014 but has spent the past two seasons playing in the NSW Cup unable to crack first grade.
Playing reserve grade has long been the natural pathway for young talents with eyes to the big time but Cornish conceded after seeing older brother Mitch and others crack the NRL he did wonder whether his chance would ever come.
"It's tough. You see other blokes getting a shot and you're just waiting for your chance," said Cornish, who turned down a chance to return to Canberra to join the Titans.
"It took two years out of 20s to finally get my shot but it was worth the wait.
"I'm just doing my best to put my best foot forward and work for the boys around me. All I can do is give my best every week and hopefully the coach sees it."