The Gold Coast Titans will be looking to make the finals for the second year in a row this season, and with one of the most exciting outlooks in the competition, they promise to be entertaining to watch each and every time they run onto the park.
Last year put the building blocks in place for a Gold Coast side who still have plenty of work to do, but have taken excellent strides forward under Justin Holbrook over the last 12 months.
Key changes in their spine make up this year, with AJ Brimson moving into the halves and Jayden Campbell taking over in the number one, as well as the departures of Ashely Taylor and Jamal Fogarty mean there is an element of unknown over the side heading into the new year.
However, with one of the game’s strongest forward packs - led by new captain Tino Fa’asuamaleaui and Moeaki Fotuaika in the middle, and backed up by the barnstorming David Fifita on the edge - there will be few excuses if the Titans slip on last year’s effort.
Ins: Aaron Booth (Melbourne Storm, 2022), Tony Francis (2023), Shallin Fuller (2022), Isaac Liu (Sydney Roosters, 2024), Will Smith (Parramatta Eels, 2023), Paul Turner (New Zealand Warriors, 2023), Thomas Weaver (2024)
Outs: Anthony Don (retired), Jamal Fogarty (Canberra Raiders), Tyrone Peachey (Wests Tigers), Jonus Pearson (released), Mitch Rein (Parramatta Eels), Sam Stone (Leigh Centurions), Ashley Taylor (New Zealand Warriors), Jai Whitbread (Leigh Centurions)
Star player: David Fifita
It really couldn’t be anyone else when you consider who the best on ground is for the Gold Coast. While the side have plenty of stars, David Fifita led the team for tries from the second row last year, which tells you all you need to know about just how dangerous the gigantic edge forward is.
While he was relegated to a bench role at the end of last season, Fifita is still the key man when it comes to being able to change a game in a matter of minutes.
Rising star: Toby Sexton
The Titans have two big rising stars in Jayden Campbell and Toby Sexton, however, taking over the kicking game and management of the team, there are few more important players in this line up than Sexton.
He will need to be switched on each and every week, directing traffic in what will be an exceptionally exciting team with the football in hand.
Most under pressure: Kevin Proctor
While it was Fifita who came from the bench at the back end of last year, it’s Proctor who risks losing his spot this year thanks to the emergence of Beau Fermor in particular, but other young forwards too.
Simply put, Proctor has been underwhelming at times. A leader, yes, but at times, not good enough in carrying his own position. He has been replaced as captain now, and while that was setting the club up for the future, there is no guarantee he keeps his spot.
Five matches to watch
Match 1: Round 1, vs Eels, at CommBank Stadium (Sun, Mar 13, 4:05pm)
Match 2: Round 9, vs Roosters, at BB Print Stadium (Sat, May 7, 5:30pm)
Match 3: Round 11, vs Sharks, at CBus Super Stadium (Sun, May 22, 4:05pm)
Match 4: Round 12, vs Broncos, at Suncorp Stadium (Fri, May 27, 7:55pm)
Match 5: Round 24, vs Knights, at CBus Super Stadium (Sun, Aug 28, 4:05pm)
The Titans are a difficult team to tip heading into the 2022 campaign, simply because there is so much unknown about how they will perform with a reformed spine.
That said, there is still exceptional talent in this side, and with an extra year under the belt for all of the forwards, as well as coach Justin Holbrook, it’s difficult to suggest their defence won’t start to naturally improve. That said, it’d be a major surprise if the Titans aren’t at least fighting for a spot in the top eight come the end of August.