Titans buy up big on local produce
Brendan Elliot still has the jersey he got signed by the inaugural Titans team of 2007 at his parents' house in Runaway Bay; Jai Whitbread's mother has a pile of old Giants and Seagulls jerseys that her husband Greg wore almost 30 years ago.
The pair have come to the club from Newcastle and Brisbane respectively but like a lot of the Titans assembling for the 2018 season they have a deep-seated connection to the Gold Coast that club officials believe is integral in fostering greater local support.
Of course, the great panacea to the sometime apathy of footy fans is to win plenty of games on the field, but there is no question that a community of any size loves nothing more than seeing locally grown talent succeeding on the big stage.
From senior leaders at the club such as Ryan James, Jarrod Wallace, Kevin Proctor, Ash Taylor and Kane Elgey through to new recruits including Elliot, Whitbread, Keegan Hipgrave and Jai Arrow the Titans have placed a premium on bringing back talent they have let slip through their fingers.
Elliot was a student at Coombabah State High School before he was signed to the Roosters academy system as a 15-year-old, while Whitbread was in the Titans system until a period of uncertainty at the club saw him take up an opportunity at the Broncos.
For Elliot, whose jersey and footy from K-Mart is adorned with the signature of current Titans football manager Anthony Laffranchi among others, playing for the Titans in 2018 will be in many ways the realisation of a boyhood dream.
"I would have been 13 when the Titans came in," Elliot recalled.
"I actually had a friend of mine that got me into the sheds after a game. I had one of the K-Mart jerseys with no sponsors and got it all signed up.
"I didn't even realise until I got here and started speaking to everyone and asking where they are from, how many of the boys are local talent.
"I found out there are a lot of local boys here that have either worked their way up or gone and come back like me.
"It's great to hear because the Gold Coast is our home town and it burns the fire deep inside your belly that you want to play for the Gold Coast Titans and want to do well for the Gold Coast.
"That was a massive point for me to get back up here and play for the Titans."
Whitbread's connections to Gold Coast rugby league stretch back to the inaugural season of the Giants in 1988 where his father Greg played 16 games, going on to make 52 first grade appearances for Gold Coast across four seasons.
Whitbread Jnr was part of the Titans' high performance academy program up until two years ago when an apparent lack of interest on the Gold Coast saw him join Brisbane, playing 44 NYC games over the past two seasons and representing the New South Wales under-18s.
"I saw a great opportunity to go to Brissie," Whitbread said on Tuesday.
"They have a really strong program up there with their juniors and the Titans were still maturing as a club. So I took that opportunity to move up to Brisbane and then I found myself back here, back home.
"To be honest I sort of knew that [the Titans] were going to try and find their feet and they were just going to grow as a club.
"I never put it out of my mind that I'd never come back but I was just keeping my doors open to whatever popped up.
"When I had my meeting here they had a big emphasis on having the boys that have grown up here play here because it will be a lot more special playing for where you grew up."