Kane Elgey during the Commonwealth Games baton relay.

Why Elgey said no to Joey Johns and yes to Titans 'Legion'

When Kane Elgey said "no" to the eighth Immortal and "yes" to a loyal group of Gold Coast Titans fans in 2015 it cut to the heart of what drives the talented five-eighth.

Andrew Johns was an assistant coach at Manly three years ago when he tried to recruit Elgey to the Sea Eagles after Daly Cherry-Evans had initially signed with the Titans.

Manly went hard at Elgey and when their interest became public it was a campaign to "Keep Kane" by the Gold Coast's official supporters group, known as The Legion, that played a major role in him staying at the Titans.

"Joey called me and said there was an opportunity to go to Manly and learn off the players there, but I wanted to stay on the Gold Coast and be loyal to my fans," Elgey told NRL.com. 

"The Legion had set up a campaign for me to stay and that made me feel like I was wanted here, so there was no way I was leaving.

"I've lived my whole life here on the Gold Coast and I just want to do the fans proud, and myself proud. That's the main thing for me."

Gold Coast five-eighth Kane Elgey.
Gold Coast five-eighth Kane Elgey. ©Jason O'Brien/NRL Photos

Rhonda Toms, The Legion's spokeswoman, explained how and why the group was so vocal about keeping Elgey.

"We did up a letter, like a plea, and sent it to the club to request that they keep Kane," she told NRL.com.

"The reason why we wanted him to stay was because of our belief in him as a young man who really loves the Titans, and he's also great at what he does.

"We are not Andrew Johns, but we believed in his potential and because he is just an amazing guy."

The Titans upped the ante in their offer to Elgey and he re-signed, a response Toms said "endeared him even more to us".

"There is a huge integrity about Kane Elgey and what he does, whether it be at training or on the field," she said.

Elgey was born on the Gold Coast, went to school at Currumbin State School and Palm Beach Currumbin High and came through the Titans system.

His commitment to his region was in evidence in 2016 when his work in the community saw him judged the Gold Coast's Youth Citizen of the Year at the 2017 Australia Day Awards.

"There were a lot of community hours that I did and work with charities that I wanted to do outside of footy, not to get an award, but it just turned out that way. It was pretty special," Elgey said.

"The best thing is seeing the smiles on the kids faces when you go to the primary schools. I know it doesn't sound like much, but it is special when you see how excited they are."

That work, and his local pedigree, saw him selected to run the Queen's Baton Relay on Monday ahead of the Commonwealth Games through Gold Coast streets, a day after he starred for the Titans in a 26-14 win over the Broncos.

"It came as a surprise," Elgey said.

Gold Coast Titans trio Anthony Don, Kane Elgey and Ryan James at the Commonwealth Games baton relay.
Gold Coast Titans trio Anthony Don, Kane Elgey and Ryan James at the Commonwealth Games baton relay. ©titans.com.au

"It is funny how it worked out because I was born in Nerang and [the relay went] a couple of hundred metres from my family home before I moved to Palm Beach.

"It was a cool day, a bit like running out on the football field. When I got off the bus with all the baton bearers the crowd was big and there were a lot of Titans supporters there, my family and my girlfriend. It was a good feeling.

"That is definitely one of the reasons why I love it here on the Gold Coast and why I want to stay."

Elgey is off contract again this year and wants to stay at the Titans, but he knows he needs to keep reproducing performances like the one he turned against the Brisbane Broncos on Sunday.

"This is going to have to be a big season for me," Elgey said.

"Hopefully the Broncos game can be a stepping stone for the rest of the year. It is all on me now. I've just got to perform."

Titans coach Garth Brennan wants nothing more than for that to be the case to make his decision to re-sign Elgey a no-brainer.

Brennan said the ACL injury that ruled Elgey out of 2016 after a breakout season the year before was one of the most serious a player could encounter.

"Even Joey Johns, an Immortal, said it took him 12 months to get his confidence back," Brennan told NRL.com.

"Kane has played less than 40 NRL games and it is a massive thing for him to get his confidence back, and he is a confidence kid to start with.

"It is about giving him some time and being patient with him. I don't want to put pressure on him by saying I'm going to sign him or I'm not going to sign him.

"I've said 'the way you play will determine where your future lies'."

Gold Coast Titans fans.
Gold Coast Titans fans. ©Jason O'Brien/NRL Photos

How he plays with halves partner Ash Taylor will have a big bearing on that, and the signs on Sunday night were positive.

"Ash took control and I got to have a shot when I wanted and we played off each other's strengths," Elgey said.

"We had a strong pre-season and gelled pretty sweet and I know that we haven't gone as well as some people might have hoped but we are a work in progress.

"The Broncos game was a really good stepping stone for the rest of the year."

In a typical rugby league twist, Daly Cherry-Evans, the man who he could have been playing with at the Titans, will be a key opponent against Manly on Sunday in Gladstone.

After his famous backflip, Cherry-Evans isn't everyone's cup of tea on the Gold Coast, but Elgey has nothing but admiration for the Manly captain.

"Daly stayed at Manly and did what was best for his family and I support that 100 per cent," Elgey said.

"Most footballers base their decision on what is best for their family and friends and that just shows he is a good role model.''

That is typical of Elgey really. You won't hear him say a bad word about anyone, in particular, the eighth Immortal.

But was it tough saying no to Joey?

"It was, actually," Elgey grinned.

"He said 'you brushed an Immortal', but Joey is a great bloke and I'd love to keep in contact with him if I could."

The Legion is just happy Elgey resisted Johns' attempt to lure him away. They got their man.

"If you were going to right a bio' on what rugby league players should be and how they should behave towards their club, their family and their fans…you'd just go with Kane Elgey," Toms said.

"Kane epitomises what you want your team to look like.''