McQueen adamant Titans can bounce back
Departing back-rower Chris McQueen is adamant that the Titans have the roster to be a premiership force in 2018 and that coaching front-runner Michael Maguire has the formula to bring almost immediate success.
McQueen will be present for his last official engagement as a Titan on Wednesday night when the club hosts its annual awards night on the Gold Coast, one of a host of players who will be given their formal farewells.
The likes of Nathan Peats, Ryan James, Anthony Don and Jarrod Wallace are set to fight it out for the major award of the night, the Paul Broughton Medal for player of the year, in a season in which there has been little to celebrate.
Coach Neil Henry was dismissed with two games remaining in 2017 and as the search for his successor ramps up, McQueen believes someone like Maguire has the ability to turn a talent-laden roster into winners.
In 2012 Maguire inherited a Rabbitohs roster boasting McQueen, Sam Burgess, Greg Inglis, Michael Crocker, Roy Asotasi and Issac Luke and took a team that finished 10th the previous season all the way to the Preliminary Finals.
With two wins over the Sharks and another over Melbourne the Titans showed in patches in 2017 that their best was good enough to trouble the top teams and that they can make significant progress next season under the right coach.
"I was at a club at the Rabbitohs that hadn't played finals footy in 10 years and similar to what we have here, we had a good side on paper but for some reason we just couldn't make it work," McQueen told NRL.com.
"As soon as Michael Maguire took over at the Rabbitohs we went from finishing 10th in 2011 to finishing third in 2012 so it can certainly turn around very quickly.
"Obviously we've got to wait and see who takes over the coaching role here – I'm sure they're going to pick the right person for the job – and as long as everyone is willing to buy into what the coach wants to do and everyone gets on the same page anything can happen."
Before Maguire arrived at Redfern an exit in week one of the 2007 finals series was South Sydney's sole playoff appearance since their 1989 minor premiership but a fierce work ethic and ruthless selection policy quickly elevated the Rabbitohs to premiership threats.
"Everyone knows how hard of a coach he is and how hard his training is but anyone can train hard and still not play well," McQueen said.
"The biggest thing that he did was the discipline and his ruthless attitude towards selections. I remember times when I'd drop a ball in a game and during that game I'd be worried about what review was going to look like and whether I was going to get dropped the following week.
"He certainly got everyone on the same page in terms of discipline and not that our discipline was bad this year but there were a few times where boys might have shown up late and gotten a slap on the wrist and a little bit of a fine.
"I've seen Madge drop guys from teams for being late, extra sessions and all that sort of thing.
"He had his standards and came down quite hard on anyone that didn't want to buy into the standards.
"Once you get everyone on the same page in terms of your discipline and your standards you can achieve anything."
Maguire's willingness to bring Sam Burgess back to the club was what drove McQueen into the arms of the Titans in late 2015 and he played all 25 games last year before a neck injury ended his 2017 campaign after 13 games.
He will move back to Sydney at the end of October to begin his three-year stint at the Wests Tigers but admits he did harbour ambitions of finishing his career at the Titans prior to signing.
"I was hopeful of that right up until the time that I signed with the Tigers, that I would stay here, but that's footy and that's the way it worked out," McQueen said.
"I'm getting quite old now so that three year offer from the Tigers made a big difference to the two years.
"I've absolutely loved my time up here. I am a Queenslander so I've really enjoyed being back here and the Titans fans have absolutely embraced me so I've got nothing but good words about my time on the Gold Coast."