THE future of the Gold Coast Titans shone as brightly as the February summer sun on Saturday at the Titans Elite Development Squad trials in Mudgeeraba.
A crowd locals ranked as even bigger than the one that watched the Mudgeeraba grand final was on hand to see the best young talent from the Titans’ catchment areas show what they had learned in the club’s development programs in the heat of on-field battle.
Titans Football Manager Anthony Laffranchi said the quality of the football, and the positive response from the players and spectators had made the event a huge success.
“It was a terrific day. We actually had more games than we anticipated, and that was due to the hard work done by Jamie McCormack and his development team in pulling it all together. Laffranchi said.
“The Western Mustangs actually sent down two under-13 teams from Toowoomba to play against our one team, which was great.
“Our under-13s was an invitational request. They had two training sessions, and while they are only kids, experiences like this at an early age will help the Titans as a club to win the hearts and minds of these kids coming through the development system.
“Then we had three under-15 teams that came down, so we played Titans ‘Darks’ and Titans ‘Lights’ against Mustangs.
“We had the Vikings v Mustangs, which is a part of our academy programs, then the under-16 Northern Rivers Titans against Mustangs and the Gold Coast Vikings, and then Burleigh versus Northern Rivers Titans in the under-18s.
“Results-wise, we had a four-from-four return in terms of the Titans teams. But really it was just a good overall result because it gave us a broad view of our development pathways.
“We captured all of our Northern Rivers, northern Queensland and southeast Queensland areas all in the one day. It was something I haven’t seen done in a long period of time. It was a great day from a club point of view, with a great crowd and a great atmosphere.”
Laffranchi said the buy-in from the players, and their pride at pulling on the Titans colours for the first time, had given the games a real sense of importance.
“It was important for these guys after all of that training to take what they have been learning and apply it on the field in a game situation,” he said.
“We saw the skills and talent we were hoping for, and then some. There was a good quality of rugby league on display.
“To think that we have the opportunity to pick any one of those kids shows that we are very rich for talent coming through. It is an exciting time.
“What we will do now is continue putting the work into these kids and the programs to ensure that the best young local talent is nurtured through the system and one day represents the Titans in the NRL.
“It was also important that they get the reward of being able to pull on the Titans jersey and to run onto the field as Titans.
“There were a lot of comments from the guys about how it felt to pull on the Titans jersey for the first time.
“It was so great to see that prestige and honour of wearing our jersey flows through to the younger ages. It is a source of great pride for them, as it should be and is for everyone in this club.”
That message was driven home even further with some very interested spectators among the impressive crowd at Firth Park.
“To have Darryl Kelly, Garth Brennan and Mal Meninga all there watching sends a great message to these kids that everyone that represents the Titans is important and matters to these guys at the top level,” he said.
“That is what we want to be as a club, and that was what we saw on Saturday.”