Garth Brennan has admitted he would love to see the return of utility back Tyrone Roberts to the Gold Coast next season but a lack of salary cap room is standing in the way of a reunion.
Roberts, who last week announced he is taking up an option to cut short his three-year contract with Warrington Wolves in Super League, is on his way back to Australia and there have been reports suggesting a deal has all but been done to return to the Titans.
Brennan, who has known Roberts for years, said the club had certainly spoken with his manager Warrick Wright, who also looks after their marquee halfback Ash Taylor, but the status of the Gold Coast's cap spending for 2019 precludes them making a substantial offer to Roberts.
The 27-year-old had the most consistent season of his career in his first season with the Titans in 2015 when, in the absence of injured Kane Elgey, he combined well with Taylor in taking the team to the finals. Last year, Neil Henry used him in a utility role after playing in the halves and hooker in 2016.
Roberts went to England on a lucrative deal, but he and his partner are terribly homesick and will return home at the end of the season.
He began slowly for the Wolves, who have made the Challenge Cup semi-finals and stand fourth on the Super League ladder, before his form has picked up in the past month.
Roberts’s first preference is to be reunited with Taylor on the Gold Coast and the Titans’ interest also confirms Elgey will not be at the club in 2019.
The release of English forward Joe Greenwood has freed up some space but he was on little more than $200,000 for next season, so it may mean the Titans would have to negotiate to offload other players to cater for Roberts.
They look to be over-committed with front-rowers with Shannon Boyd joining skipper Ryan James, Jarrod Wallace, Max King, Morgan Boyle, 18-year-old top prospect Moeaki Fotuaika and Leilani Latu, who is believed to be on a rich three-year deal after signing from Penrith.
"I have spoken to Tyrone’s management but I don’t think we can get anywhere near the money he is on [at Warrington}," Brennan said.
"I believe there are other clubs who have shown interest too. One of the roles we are looking to fill is a utility role. We lost Tyrone who played that role last season and Karl [Lawton] at the start of this year.
"To have someone who can cover nine, seven, six and one is a real attraction. But whether he is willing to come back in that utility role and on that sort of utility money is the stumbling block."
How contract talks pan out with centre Dale Copley, young tearaway forward Keegan Hipgrave and winger Anthony Don in the next few weeks may determine where Roberts ends up.
It is believed Copley’s re-signing is close to being confirmed.
In team news, the Titans have included Queensland prop Jarrod Wallace in a 22-man squad to take on Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday with the under-fire prop returning after missing the round-14 clash with the Bulldogs because of suspension.
Prop Max King is the only Titans player on the sidelines. He went in for shoulder surgery on Monday and will miss the remainder of the season.