Teammates of "forgotten Titan" Kane Elgey have sprung to his defence, saying it would be a travesty if the talented playmaker was lost to the NRL next season.
Elgey, who has not been picked by Garth Brennan since round seven and is not in his plans for next season, was on standby for AJ Brimson before the 19-year-old five-eighth proved on Friday he had overcome his concussion before Sunday's clash with the Warriors at Cbus Super Stadium.
Brimson getting the all-clear means Elgey will be left to again battle for Tweed Heads in the Intrust Super Cup a few kilometres away.
While there has been some interest from NRL clubs, Elgey has more lucrative deals on offer from Super League, including the Catalans Dragons where former Gold Coast teammates Greg Bird and David Mead play.
Gold Coast's Maroons representative Jarrod Wallace and skipper Ryan James said Elgey, at 24, still has too much to offer the NRL and he is one of the best organising halfbacks in the Telstra Premiership.
Elgey's defence has been criticised but James defended his mate's ability to tackle and Wallace said he had been a victim of team line-up changes around him.
"He's very unlucky to be where he is," said Wallace.
"At the start of the year he had three or four back-rowers changing each week on his edge, and different centres.
"I think he was hard done by to be back there [in the ISC] but full credit to him, he has gone back to Tweed and played outstanding footy.
"If he was to get his chance again before the year is out I know he would take it with open arms. He loves the club and wants to do the best he can and is an outstanding guy who works hard.
"It would be handy if we could keep him but if there was a club who wants to pick him up, he'll be outstanding for them.
"He has one of the best kicking games going around. The way he reads a game and leads a team around makes him one of the best young talents I've seen."
James played on the left edge beside Elgey in his outstanding debut season in 2015, after he was the Holden Cup player of the year in 2014.
"I want him here, but you can't have everything," said James. "He's a quality player and maybe a change of scenery might be good for him.
"He's definitely an NRL player and I wouldn't like to see him go overseas yet.
"He can defend. He puts his body in front of them. Halfback is a hard place to defend when you have much bigger men running at you and you're not working from the inside to help a smaller defender."
Elgey was in fine form in the early rounds, with four try-assists, three line-break assists and nine tackle breaks, but was dropped on the back of defensive lapses in the round seven 26-14 loss to the Cowboys in Townsville. That night he had Bryce Cartwright, whose defensive deficiencies have been well documented, stationed inside him and winger Phillip Sami, in his only game as centre, outside - causing indecision on the left edge.
Cartwright was given the position for the next two games (during which he missed 12 tackles). Brimson was handed his debut in round 10 and has been outstanding defensively and runs directly with enthusiasm but does not possess a natural ability to dictate play and find space for others – putting more pressure on Ash Taylor as the team's sole playmaker.
Brimson has gradually taken more responsibility in the past few weeks and laid on a good try with a cut-out pass to Sami against the Knights last Sunday, but Brennan says his likely future is at fullback.
Brennan is known to be keen next season to reunite Taylor with Tyrone Roberts, who took on a mentoring role with the young No.7 in 2016 while Elgey was sidelined for the season. But room will have to be made in the salary cap for that to happen.