Under-20s utility player Karl Lawton continues the path set by Kane Elgey by becoming the latest of the club’s exciting locally-bred players to re-sign with the Titans.
The 19-year-old Lawton, who has impressed at five-eighth this season after playing hooker in 2014, signed a two-year contract this week.
The news comes as High Performance Unit (Titans under 16-18 elite squad) members Ben Thomas, Max Dowd and Darius Farmer won selection in the Queensland under-16s team to play NSW before State of Origin 1 next month.
All three players were rewarded for their outstanding Cyril Connell seasons with Ben and Max standout performers for Gold Coast White and Darius has been among his team’s best consistently for Ipswich.
Lawton, brother of former Titans NRL player Kane Lawton, has proven to be a dominant Holden Cup player in the early rounds of 2015.
Lawton’s signing also emphasises what a valuable junior nursery Group 18 has become with three players from the area among the best prospects in the club in Lawton (Cudgen Bilambil), Elgey (Tugun) and Ryan James (Bilambil).
Gold Training under-20s coach Ben Woolf said Lawton has proved to be an exciting prospect since coming into the Titans squad only halfway through last season after initially being overlooked.
“Karl has proved to be an exciting utility player who is still learning after only coming into the side around round 14 last season,” said Woolf.
“He was recommended by Tweed Seagulls to trial with us and after training for a month was added to the side and was impressive from the start as a hooker off the bench.
“We moved him to five-eighth this year where he has been a dangerous runner and strong defender. His development in the past 10 months has been impressive but he knows he has a lot to work on still.”
Titans list manager Jamie Mathiou says the retention of Elgey and Lawton in the past week shows the emphasis on keeping the best local players on the Gold Coast and he hopes they lead the way for many more.
“We are moving towards ensuring that just about all of the best junior talent in our catchment area from Lismore into Logan want to play for the Titans because they see it as their best pathway to the NRL by staying at home,” said Mathiou.
“Kane’s endorsement by rejecting a lucrative offer from Manly because he wants to stay with his local NRL club and on the Gold Coast because what we offer here is a strong statement.
“Karl is one of several talented young players we hope have a bright future with the Titans. We feel we have the right structures and development paths here and want to continue to encourage local boys to stay home and pursue their rugby league dreams.”