The numbers behind the Gold Coast Titans' 2017 results tell quite a story. Paul Zalunardo and Joel Gould take a look at what happened on the field for the NRL's newest team.
The Titans have lost a coach and their star player in the past six months and with those sagas behind them, 2018 looms as a make or break season for the club.
New coach Garth Brennan has the ultimate challenge ahead, but he does have salary cap space after Jarryd Hayne’s exit and has already acquired Leilani Latu and Mitch Rein to strengthen the squad?
Ryan James, the captain in 2017, said the key to ensuring a successful season was not complex.
''You look at the top four teams and they defend better and that is what we are working on. I've done more defensive work this pre-season than I have in a lifetime,'' James said.
''With the halves we have got and the strike power we have got out wide we will find the tries will come naturally, but we have to be able to defend our line.''
Averaging less than 20 points a match (both at home and away) made winning a tough ask for the Titans. Improving their home record needs to be their main priority.
The Titans were hoping for more than eight tries from star signing Jarryd Hayne. Experienced winger Anthony Don topped the club list, but failed to crack the NRL top 10.
''He played Country this year and got the Paul Broughton (medal),'' Titans five-eighth Kane Elgey said.
''On the field he just turns up all the time and that is what you want from a winger every week. He is calm and one of the best finishers I have seen.''
The long-kicking game of the Titans ranked the worst in the NRL at almost five metres below the league average. Ashley Taylor was their best. He made up for a lack of length per kick to rank seventh in the NRL in total kicking metres.
According to NRL.com/stats, the Titans made the third-fewest line breaks in 2017. Kane Elgey was their best in the supports and decoys category with a modest average. His season total was more than 100 adrift of the top 10 in the NRL.
In the 11 matches he played, Karl Lawton established the third-highest average in the NRL. In some more good news, halfback Ashley Taylor topped the NRL with 19 try assists.
''Every game Karl came off the bench he made yards and we just needed more of us to get behind him. He is just a strong boy,'' Elgey told NRL.com
''He only played 11 games but he was in the top five for the Paul Broughton Medal. I went to the same school as Karl and played with him and I have seen him grow.''
Jarrod Wallace was in the wrong type of company when it came to being called up for transgressions by referees. His tally was easily the most by a Titan and the third highest in the NRL.
Ashley Taylor led the way for the Titans in this department, but his NRL-best total for try assists indicates his willingness to take the odd risk. The 24 errors made by centre Konrad Hurrell is high for that position.
''That is a reflection of our ball handling and maybe over-playing our hand. It is not a good stat to have,'' Elgey said.
''If you complete over 80 percent you are in the running in a football game. That is the goal and what we have been practising.''
Gold Coast fared poorly when it came to attracting multiple defenders. Jarrod Wallace was the NRL’s 26th best in this metric, with the next-best Titan, Ryan James, well adrift of his result.
Joe Greenwood finished with an impressive result but made just five appearances as an interchange player. Of the remaining Titans, the points differentials were indicative of a team that finished near the bottom of the ladder.
Jarryd Hayne didn’t live up to the lofty expectations placed upon him during the season, but his work at clearing up opposition attacking kicks proved successful. The Titans will want more of that in 2018.