Titans add junior rep star to roster
The Titans' forward stocks have received an exciting boost both for this year and next with the immediate addition of former Bronco and Gold Coast product Keegan Hipgrave until the end of the 2018 season.
Hipgrave was something of a surprise new face at Titans recovery on Monday morning but having come through the famed Palm Beach Currumbin system and playing his junior footy with the Nerang Roosters he is already familiar with many of the Titans players.
Eligible for a third year of under-20s this year due to the fact that his birthday is January 1, Hipgrave has represented the Queensland under-18s and Queensland and Australian Schoolboys in recent years and is tipped to feature in the Queensland under-20s team for the first time this year.
A hard-working middle forward with good leg speed, Hipgrave faced a lengthy wait to crack first grade at the Broncos and so was granted a release from the final year of his contract.
Former Bronco Jarrod Wallace spoke highly of Hipgrave as a player and a person while former Broncos under-20s coach and now Titans assistant Craig Hodges is excited to see how he will develop over the next 18 months.
"First and foremost he's an outstanding quality human being. He's a really, really good quality young man," Hodges told NRL.com.
"He's got a great work ethic and he's been a standout player right through the age groups and he's willing to learn and work hard. There's an opportunity here for him so I think it's a good fit for both sides.
"He's very quick for a middle forward so he gets you rolling forward and gets some good momentum and he's very physical, he likes the collision. The challenge for him is to take that from junior footy and schoolboy footy into senior football.
"He'll provide some good energy and enthusiasm for us and we can obviously continue his development and provide a great opportunity for him.
"He's still at that under-20s age where you can bring him into your system and continue to develop him and hopefully we bring him through to be a long-term first-grader."
Three years ahead of him at Palm Beach Currumbin, Titans five-eighth Kane Elgey said it was exciting to see further expansion of the PBC alumni now present within the club with the likes of Ryan James, Kevin Proctor and Ryan Simpkins also products of the Gold Coast rugby league nursery.
"We just said that then. I think we've got six PBC boys so it's great to have the Palm Beach boys back," said Elgey.
"I went to school with him at PBC but he's a bit younger. I've watched him growing up and I might have played him one year of 20s. I've seen him playing for Broncos and I know a few of his mates as well."
With Simpkins undergoing scans on Monday for what is potentially a season-ending knee injury, Max King coming back from a broken hand and Agnatius Paasi not expected back until after the bye in Round 12, Hipgrave's NRL debut could come as early as this Saturday against Manly.