Brennan elated with rapid progress of Brimson
There has been at least one blessing for the Titans around the fall in form of high-expectations halfback Ash Taylor – the emergence of 19-year-old Alexander (AJ) Brimson.
Brimson, in his eighth match since replacing Kane Elgey as Taylor's halves partner, has gathered the confidence and trust of teammates to become a second point of attack for the struggling Titans – even though coach Garth Brennan sees his future at fullback.
In his seven games before being dropped, Elgey was a genuine 'go to' man for the Titans in attack and an effective ally for Taylor.
He was responsible for four try assists and three line assists and ran for an average 71 metres, but Brennan didn't trust his defence.
During his eight games in the No. 6 jersey, Brimson has been enormous defensively against bigger men who have targeted him however, while not shy to run and posing a threat, he was not engaging the line or provide a voice like Elgey did and hardly kicked.
However, since the round 16 game against Wests Tigers it is obvious his confidence and willingness to call the play has improved enormously, and that performance – and Sunday's against Sydney Roosters – have been his best.
And it is all aimed at taking the Titans away from being too one-dimensional in attack, particularly on last tackle plays, and taking pressure off Taylor who has succumbed to errors and stuttered with his game-flow in recent weeks.
And the fact Brimson was backing up in his third game in eight days, after playing a prominent role in Queensland under-20s convincing victory over NSW on Wednesday night, made the effort even more admirable.
"AJ was enormous," enthused Brennan. "He ran the ball and whenever a halfback runs the ball, he is threatening.
"Ash (Taylor) drifted in and out of the game. He had some good plays and some plays he'd like to have again but the difference was that AJ took it upon himself to take some pressure off Ash which is pleasing.
"We're starting to see AJ develop into the halfback to compliment Ash that we're looking for."
Taylor leads the NRL's try-assist list with 16, yet Elgey (71m) and Brimson (77m) run the ball a lot more than Taylor (42m) and Brimson has started to take on the last-play high kicks with good effect.
He is also calling plays close to the try-line when they were often over-burdened on Taylor.
"I'm slowly getting more confident each week and easing into the role," said Brimson.
"I'm trying to take some pressure off Ash. Obviously he's the number one kicker and has a great kicking game.
"But teams are starting to realise that and put him under pressure so I'm trying to step up and give that second kick option and try to get the boys to believe in me and that I can get the job done.
"It comes with me being more confidence and the team having more confidence in me."
Brennan is keen to get Tyrone Roberts back to the club next season. Roberts has a close personal relationship with Taylor and they combine well on the field but there is likely to be no room in the salary cap unless other players are moved on.
Fullback Michael Gordon turns 35 in October but has been in outstanding form and has another season to run on his contract. Elgey is looking elsewhere, so the mystery is where Brimson plays next season and long term with those machinations in play.
Certainly, he is improving week to week and has shown no signs of being a teenager intimidated by the pressure.