NEW Zealand Kiwis assistant coach Ezra Howe has joined the Gold Coast Titans as the club's recruitment manager.
Howe, who is also the current head coach of the Junior Kiwis, has joined the Titans from the Tweed Heads Seagulls, where he was the development manager.
Prior to that, Howe was the junior development manager at the Canberra Raiders, where he worked in the NRL system for nine years.
Howe's appointment is another major investment by the club in the region's rugby league nursery, after the November unveiling of the Titans Elite Development Squad – an elite pathway for under-16 and under-18 players who aspire to represent the Titans in the National Rugby League.
Titans Executive Chairman Dennis Watt said Howe's appointment would help the club meets its ultimate ambition of a roster consisting predominantly of local juniors produced in the Gold Coast and Northern Rivers regions.
"With the TEDS program, the club has made a seven-figure investment in our communities to ensure the region's young players have a clear pathway to realise their dreams of playing in the NRL without having to leave the crucial support networks of family and friends," Watt said.
"Ezra's appointment as recruitment manager is a continuation of that investment, and a further sign of our faith in the quality of players being produced in the region.
"Ezra has been on the Gold Coast for 12 months working with Tweed, and already has created terrific relationships around the clubs, schools and community at large.
"He brings a terrific amount of skill, passion and expertise to an area that is vital to the long-term health and success of this club, and rugby league generally on the Gold Coast and the Northern Rivers.
"Ezra also brings a huge amount of experience at the game's elite levels through his roles as head coach of the Junior Kiwis, and as assistant coach to Michael Maguire with the Kiwis Test team.
"He will be a terrific asset to the Titans' football operations."
Howe said the chance to work in the NRL system in one of the game's strongest and proudest traditional nurseries made joining the Titans an opportunity too good to ignore.
"There is incredible pool of talented young players here on the Gold Coast," Howe said. "People don't realise how big rugby league is on the Gold Coast, and how many talented kids we have coming through the ranks at the moment.
"The club has made an incredible investment in the future with the creation of the Titans Elite Development Squad to ensure the most is made of that fantastic potential.
"My role with the Titans is to ensure that the club is being proactive in identifying and developing talented players, helping local clubs and the local areas, and making sure the best of these young kids grow up wanting to be Titans."
Howe will continue in his roles with the New Zealand Rugby League in addition to his duties with the Titans.
"The club was happy with me to continue in both roles with the Kiwis, and I thought it was important too because it helps me stay relevant in my position and allows me to do my job better," he said.
"Because I am dealing with young, talented players more often, I can better relate to where they are on their development journey.
"It just helps with my skills in recruitment as well, because I have seen all of these guys develop over many years, so I am able to see certain traits in the guys that really go on with their careers and the ones who don't."