There are no excuses for Gold Coast not to fire this year and I'm excited about their prospects of sustained success on and off the field.
I have put the heat on the Titans by tipping them to make the eight this season, but coach Garth Brennan and his players also have this expectation. This is without doubt the best roster the Titans have had since they made the finals in back-to-back years in 2009 and 2010.
Their recruitment is as good as it was when they first started in 2007 with Scott Prince, Luke Bailey, Preston Campbell and Mat Rogers on board.
They were excellent players and good men, and the same goes for Shannon Boyd, Tyrone Roberts and Tyrone Peachey who I believe will all add much-needed qualities to the Gold Coast.
I'm very excited by what Ash Taylor and Roberts will bring to their halves combination. I’ve already been impressed by the control Roberts brings to his role. He seems to calm Taylor and give him the freedom of mind to play the way he wants and the way the team needs him to. Roberts seems to unlock the best in Taylor.
I look at Jai Arrow, Ryan James and Jarrod Wallace in the starting pack, and then you throw in big Boyd. The Titans haven’t had that big 120kg-plus body in the middle before. Against the Broncos in a trial he was devastating in the first 20 minutes before he injured a hand. If he can replicate that on a regular basis the Titans are going to start games on the right footing.
Peachey is an Origin player and a match-winner. He has that magic that gets you on the edge of your seat, and he oozes confidence. He will win games for the Titans this year.
The key for me is the Titans administration is now stable and in capable hands.
I went to school with the club's new CEO Steve Mitchell and have known him for a long time. The Titans are on steady ground with Steve at the helm, and chairman Dennis Watt knows what success looks like. He was a director and chairman at the Broncos.
I’ve also known Dennis for ages and he will be working hard to give the Titans the edge in all areas so they can keep their near neighbours up the road more than honest.
Then there is culture, which Mal Meninga is going to have a lot of influence on as head of performance and culture. You can talk about culture all you like but Mal understands what a winning and respectful culture looks like. He’s lived it and brought it to all the teams that he has played in and coached.
Mal is trying to solidify the team and give them a sense of the history of rugby league in the Gold Coast and Northern Rivers area. In the past the Titans have not really had a culture or any roots. Players have come and gone. It has been fly in and fly out and almost like the players they signed were going there for a good time on the holiday strip, but that is no way to build a culture.
The Broncos have built a culture over 30 years. Walk into the headquarters at Red Hill and it is still there. The Broncos keep their squad together better than most and that is what the Gold Coast need to do.
The raw material is there and Mal will instil the attitude in the players where when they cross that white line they will be playing for their mate beside them.
I played against a few different Gold Coast franchises in the 1990s and I never lost a game against them in that time. We were always confident of winning against them so we'd always look forward to a trip to the Gold Coast. We knew we’d have a win and have a good night.
I don’t think you can have that attitude against this Titans side. Last year I noted they beat sides they weren’t expected to and I thought they were positive signs.
Now they are firmly on the right track from the chairman right the way down.
They need a good start to the season against the Raiders at home, and then away to the Sharks, Rabbitohs and Warriors and they are capable of winning all of those games.
Not many pundits are predicting the Titans to do well this year but I beg to differ. They have everything in place to return to finals footy.