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Opinion

Signing forwards has the Gold Coast Titans going backwards

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Roar Rookie
6 days ago
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After finishing last in 2019 under Garth Brennan, the Gold Coast Titans’ playing group needed a huge shake up and a new coach.

Justin Holbrook signed with the club to start in 2020, carry out a complete roster overhaul and create a new, winning culture that players and fans wanted to be a part of – and boy has he done that!

His first year, he took the Gold Coast from 16th to ninth and gave fans something to look forward to in 2021.

Last year, he then furthered his efforts, the club making the finals for the second time in ten years, narrowly losing to the Roosters in the qualifying finals.

Justin Holbrook

Justin Holbrook (Photo by Dave Howarth/PA Images via Getty Images)

Holbrook made some great signings and contract extensions in Jamal Fogarty, AJ Brimson, Corey Thompson, Mo Fotuaika, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui and David Fifita among others, which saw immediate results.

However, there are hidden repercussions Titan fans are ignoring with ‘stars’ Fifita and Fa’asuamaleaui.

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Fifita signed until the end of ’23 on a reported $1.2 million a season. Staggering. At his best, he is one of, if not the, most damaging second-rower in the game. You give him the ball 20 metres out from the try line and bookies are already paying his anytime try-scorer.

Yet he goes missing on a frequent basis.

Fifita started 2021 in the run-on team but was relocated to the bench about halfway through the year to try and find his best role, as he isn’t an 80-minute player.

He has games where he makes 16 tackle breaks, runs for 175 metres, has four offloads, makes 30 tackles, with 50 post-contact metres. Then the next week he achieves no line breaks, two tackle breaks, 80-odd metres, and five missed tackles.

This will ultimately see Fifita leave the Titans at the end of his contract – as he has reached the ceiling salary wise and is not worth anywhere near that amount – or it will see the club make the wrong decision, re-sign him, and bury themselves in his payslips.

David Fifita of the Titans in action

David Fifita (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Fa’asuamaleaui is in the same boat. ‘Big Tino’ came across from Melbourne in 2021 on a deal worth a reported $2 million over three years – roughly $650k a year for an impressive young forward who is a consistent workhorse.

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But the announcement this week that he had re-signed with the club past 2023 on around $825,000 a year is just ludicrous.

Tino is a great player, a Queensland rep and a premiership winner under Craig Bellamy, but if the Titans extend Fifita’s contract, they will have two players chewing into one-fifth of a 30-man salary cap.

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Not just two players, but two forwards, one who plays 60 minutes a game and the other who has a superb game followed by four mediocre performances.

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The Gold Coast have made it clear Tino will be their star man and captain in the future, and if they re-sign Fifita, the club will be in a world of pain, continuing to scrape into the top eight at best.

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