This is the 24th article in the (marathon) ongoing series where we remember some of the forgotten players from your favourite club.
Today, it’s the Gold Coast Titans’ turn, not to be confused with any of the previous iterations of teams from the Gold Coast (Giants, Seagulls, Gladiators and Chargers), which were the subject of a separate article.
The Titans are the baby of the NRL, having only joined in 2007. A total of 158 players have represented the club since day one, including club stalwarts like Mark Minichello, William Zillman, Luke Bailey, David Mead, Scott Prince, Ryan James, Anthony Don, Preston Campbell and Ashley Harrison, all who have played more than 100 games for the Titans.
But they’ve also had a number of players who had but brief careers on the coast, and who may now be forgotten.
How many of this team of Titans players do you remember?
1. Jordan Rankin
Rankin was a prodigious junior talent and was the youngest player since 1936 to make his first-grade debut as a 16-year-old when he ran out for the Titans in 2008. It was probably a case of too much too soon though, and he only played 17 top-grade games for the club over the next six seasons.
He has since both spent some time in England and played for the Tigers, and will turn out for the Eels in 2021 after joining them during the 2020 season.
2. Matthew Peterson
Originally from W.A., the big winger with the big hair came to the Titans in 2007 after stints with both North Queensland and Parramatta. He played 21 games for the Titans over the next two seasons, scoring 14 tries before heading to the UK. He also played eight Tests for the USA including several games as captain.
3. Esikeli Tonga
The younger brother of Australian international Willie Tonga, big Esikeli made his first-grade debut for the Titans in 2008 and went on to play 36 games in the top grade over the next three years. He then faded from view after leaving the Titans, with just a handful of first-grade games with Manly and Parramatta. He also played three Tests for Tonga.
4. Beau Champion
A souths junior, Champion was a prolific try-scorer, running in 49 tries in his 107-game first-grade career. His best years were behind him by the time he joined the Titans in 2012 and he played just nine games for the club in an injury-plagued year.
5. Daniel Vidot
Bigger than most forwards, Vidot was a weapon on the field and didn’t shy away from physical confrontation. In fact, he loved a blue. He came to the Titans in 2017 for what was his last season in the NRL and played just three first-grade games that year. He then pursued a career in WWE (wrestling) and goes by the ring name Xyon Quinn.
6. Josh Lewis
A Balmain junior, Lewis played 25 first grade games during his three-year career in the top grade, firstly with the Roosters and then 13 games for the Titans over the 2007 and 2008 seasons.
7. Albert Kelly
Hailing from Macksville (“that’s in Queensland”), Kelly is a very talented player who probably would have achieved much more in his career with a little more application. He joined the Titans from Cronulla via the Newcastle competition in 2013 and played 33 games during the next two years, crossing for 16 tries.
After being caught up in the Cronulla peptides scandal then spent the next six years in England, where he scored 63 tries in 110 games. He has now joined the Broncos for the 2021 season.
8. Kris Kahler
Kahler was a young giant when he made his first-grade debut for the Broncos at the age of just 19 in 2002. He then spent three seasons with the Raiders before joining the Titans in 2007 where he played 15 first-grade games for the club, including a man of the match performance in their first-ever game before falling out of favour with coach John Cartwright.
9. Sam Irwin
Irwin came to the Titans by way of Darwin and the Queensland Cup before joining the Titans in 2011. He finally got his chance in first-grade with the Titans in 2013 and played ten games for the club that year. He later headed to England to play for Featherstone Rovers.
10. Michael Hodgson
Big and rugged, Hodgson played over 200 first-grade games in his 14-year career in the top grade. A former Australian Schoolboy representative, he came to the Titans in 2007 after stints with both Parramatta and Canberra. He played 35 games for the Titans over the 2007 and 2008 seasons before joining the Bulldogs in 2009 and retiring at the end of the 2011 season.
11. Daniel Conn
Built like a brick dunny, Conn came from the central west of NSW to the Bulldogs in 2005. He then joined the Titans in 2007 and played 28 games for the club over the next three seasons before moving on the Roosters. Ongoing spinal injuries eventually forced his retirement from the game at the age of 25.
12. Ben Ridge
A former Australian Schoolboys representative, Ridge was big and mobile and could really play the game. He made first-grade with the Titans in 2010 and went on to play 58 games for the club over the next six seasons before injuries finally took their toll, leading to his retirement from the game in 2015 at the age of 26.
13. Paul Carter
Like his father, Penrith legend Steve Carter, Paul Carter was an Australian Schoolboy representative. He was a Penrith junior, but made his first-grade debut for the Titans in 2014, playing 21 games for the club that year before having his contract terminated for misconduct. He then had stints with both Souths and the Roosters but was moved on from each club for disciplinary reasons.
14. Matt Hilder
With a great nickname, Waltzing Matt Hilder played over 200 first-grade games in his 11-year career. He joined the Titans in 2007 after a four year stint with Cronulla, and played 19 games for the Gold Coast that year. Hilder was a versatile player who could play hooker, lock or 5/8 with ease. He left the Titans in 2008 and went on to play the next six seasons with Newcastle, eventually retiring after a series of head knocks.
15. Luke Swain
A hard-working back-rower, Swain came to the Titans from Penrith in 2007 and played 34 games for the club over the next two years before finishing his career in the top grade in England.
16. Caleb Binge
A big front-rower, Binge looked to be on the path to success, representing QLD at both under-16 and under-18 level. Unfortunately, his first-grade career was limited to just two games for the Titans in 2014.
17. Matt Robinson
Robinson was a big back-rower who hails from NZ, and he joined the Titans from the Panthers in 2015 and played six first-grade games for the club over the next two seasons. He then headed to France to further his career.