Tyrone Roberts is Gold Coast's preferred option to boost their halves next year after coach Garth Brennan said the club had put a line through Corey Norman as a potential recruit.
NRL.com revealed on Wednesday that Brennan and the Eels five-eighth had held informal talks on the Gold Coast in June. However, the club's half-owner and long-time saviour Darryl Kelly has said publicly Norman is not the right fit for a club that has had to work hard to repair a tarnished public image.
And if the Eels were willing to foot a good chunk of Norman's salary cap in 2019, the Titans would struggle to make room to accommodate his lucrative contract in the remaining years of any contract.
And Brennan is known to have a preference to bring Roberts back if the ducks can line up with the cap.
Brennan is just one voice on the Titans' retention and recruitment committee which includes Kelly, head of football Phil Moss, football manager Anthony Laffranchi and Titans chief executive Graham Annesley. The committee has knocked any move for Norman squarely on the head.
"That's the committee's decision, I respect that decision and we move on," Brennan said.
"I understand where the club is and the situation. He's a talented player, there's no doubt about that, but I said when I came here it's always club first and if that is the decision the football recruitment committee has made we move on.
"We have some exciting young kids in the system. If the right a player comes along that's going to suit the Gold Coast Titans we will look at that."
It is understood the chances of Norman linking with the club also took a hit on Thursday when he said in an interview with Sky Sports' Big Sports Breakfast that he did not want to go to "a rebuilding club".
The highest-paid recruit in Titans history - Eels veteran Jarryd Hayne - will partner Norman against them at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.
Hayne rarely hit top form during his 22-game Gold Coast stint and Kelly and the power-brokers are rightfully cautious of ensuring they have the right fit when they spend big dollars.
And Brennan doesn't disagree with that attitude.
"It is so important that you make the right decision on who you bring into a club," he said.
"We've seen clubs in the past probably pull the wrong rein, recruit the wrong person and the effect it can have on the club.
"Darryl Kelly is a very respected man and very astute in what he does. He is doing a fantastic job leading this club and we respect the decisions he makes and we move on."
The wide belief is Brennan would prefer Roberts, who is playing in the English Super League, returning to the club where he impressed in 2016-17 but there is not enough in the cap to make him a high-range offer.
And complicating what the Titans can do is that they are three players down on the 29 required to be in place in the top 30 squad by the end of March 2019.
It leaves somewhat of a conundrum that they want to entertain a top-line signing but also have to find some bodies on minimum wage - or shed players, which is common in the NRL these days.
The club will give no indication publicly on which players may be under pressure. High-priced squad members Bryce Cartwright, Leilani Latu, Konrad Hurrell have spent varying time in the Intrust Super Cup this season.
Fullback Michael Gordon will be 35 in September but his form has been excellent and he wants to play on next season to complete his two-year deal.
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