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It was the Sydney Roosters’ match to lose on Thursday when the men from Bondi lined up against an understrength Sea Eagles outfit in Manly.
And while the Roosters did walk away with two valuable competition points, the 20-10 victory didn’t come as easy as most expected.
We could put this down to several different reasons: an error riddled Roosters completion rate of just 59 percent, a valiant Sea Eagles side full of youngsters looking to prove their worth, the emotion of what has been a week of controversy for Manly.
But one reason that should not be overlooked was the leadership and experience shown by the halves pairing of Daly Cherry-Evans and Kieran Foran.
What you won’t see on the stat sheet from last night was their cool headedness and their ability to lead an inexperienced team around the park while under immense pressure.
We’ve come to expect these types of performances from Cherry-Evans, a man that has been heavily scrutinised for much of his career whether he’s playing at a club, state, or international level.
But if the struggling Gold Coast Titans are looking for leadership, then the two-year signing of Keiran Foran from next year could well become one of the buys of the 2023 season.
The Titans aren’t lacking firepower in attack with the likes of Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, David Fifita, A.J Brimson and Jayden Campbell on the field.
But Jamal Fogarty’s move to the Raiders this year has proven that there is nobody in the Titans squad to ignite these young superstars and give them the space and time to work their magic.
Foran’s work on the left edge last night proved that he’s valuable to the Gold Coast Titans and still create opportunities.
Midway through the second half the 32 year old made a fast cut towards the Roosters defence before delivering a pinpoint pass to Reuben Garrick on his outside which almost led to a try.
In the 80th minute – despite a victory being out of reach – Foran accelerated onto a ball from Jake Trbojevic, creating an overlap which led to a try for debutant Alfred Smalley.
The ability to create indecision in the defence’s mind is one of (but certainly not all of) the reasons why the Titans haven’t been able to unlock their potential in 2022.
An experienced head like Foran who’s comfortable taking the ball to the line won’t do the Titans any disservice in this department.
But what the Gold Coast are also getting is a field general, someone to organise the troops, create structure and put players in the best position to succeed.
You could argue that Foran’s signing with the Titans is similar to Chad Townsend heading to the Cowboys or Adam Reynolds moving to Brisbane.
Will Foran lift the Titans into the top four like Townsend and Reynolds have done for the other two Queensland sides? It’s highly unlikely, but then again who could have predicted that happening?
Will Foran help instill confidence, pull the Titans off the bottom of the ladder and potentially compete for a top 8 spot? Absolutely.
It’s easy to forget Foran’s 2011 premiership heroics, especially considering his horror run of injuries and mediocre tenures with the Eels, Warriors and Bulldogs since then.
When Foran joins the Titans next year he will be coming off two full seasons with Manly where he has played almost every game.
Last night’s performance showed us what the Gold Coast faithful should expect from Foran next year: winning experience, leadership and resilience.
Foran won’t be a world beater, nor should anyone expect him to be, but he will provide the Titans with a platform to work off and invaluable experience for the halves that succeed him.