The iSelect Titans first under-20s captain in 2007, back-rower Ryan Simpkins, is coming home after signing a two-year deal with the club.
The 26-year-old has played the last three seasons with the Penrith Panthers and was part of their NSW Cup winning side and played in the inaugural NRL state championships on grand final day last Sunday.
“I always thought in the back in my mind it would be nice to come back at some stage and play for the Titans and it is good how it has worked out,” said the 26-year-old who played 27 NRL games during his three seasons with the Panthers.
“Growing up on the Gold Coast and coming through the juniors, we didn’t always have a team to support for a long while (between 1998 and 2007) so it was great to be part of the club’s first year.
“I naturally then would have liked to have played first grade for the Titans but it didn’t work out but I’m just glad to get an opportunity now and, if I can show good enough form, play NRL for the area I grew up in.”
Other than Ryan being an under-20s Titan in the club’s first year, his father Robert was an inaugural Gold Coast player when rugby league was put on the big stage for the first time in 1988, as the Gold Coast Seagulls. Robert, who previously played for Souths, was also a tough back-rower.
After representing the Titans in under-20s in 2007-08, Ryan had three years with Tweed Heads Seagulls and twice represented Queensland Residents.
He was in the 2011 grand final side that included 2014 Titans forwards Cody Nelson and Tom Kingston.
This year he was selected as lock in the NSW Cup team of the year and was also the Panthers’ NSW Cup player of the year.
He is the third back-rower signed for 2015 along with New Zealander Matt Robinson, who finished the season strongly in the Panthers’ finals team, and 22-year-old Lachlan Burr from Canterbury.