There are many good reasons why the Gold Coast Titans are viable, relevant, necessary and prepared, to continue their important role for rugby league in the northern NSW-south-east Queensland areas.
That’s a pretty good place to start. No other club in the NRL straddles the border of the two chief rugby league states of our competition.
This gives the Titans a unique place in our sport – one we are not taking for granted and instead are using as a springboard to grow our great game, while at the same time produce a winning NRL team.
The events of this week have led people to debate where the Titans should be relocated as the second Brisbane-based team, or whether they should be given new ownership, or closed down altogether.
People think that because they have no idea what's going on behind the curtains of the Titans. They see a second NRL coach leaving in just over two years to jump to conclusions about the club, and what we're actually doing in the community, and how important this area is for rugby league.
There's 5,000 juniors in the Gold Coast area and another 2,000 across the border in the Northern Rivers area. We are starting to make some real inroads – our area is one of the very few who have actually had increases in participation at the grassroots level.
Bennett: Titans should stay put
Yes, we've gone through some difficult time and challenges at the elite level, but I'm telling you the Titans are a success story in the lower age groups.
The Northern Rivers Titans beat the Western Rams 18-6 in the CRL’s Andrew Johns Cup final for Under-16 teams from regional NSW in April this year. The Tweed Seagulls beat Wynnum-Manly 28-24 to win the QRL’s Mal Meninga Cup for Under-18s in May this year.
So rugby league is a growing force here. We don't want to relinquish this area to the AFL or other codes to come and steal our thunder with our juniors.
We are active in the community with disability rugby league, touch footy and now we've got two women’s teams attached to the Titans feeder clubs – Burleigh Bears and Tweed Seagulls – along with the female competitions that sit under those two.
One of the Burleigh Bears players, Millie Boyle, is from the Cobargo-Bermagui area and made her NSW Women’s State of Origin debut in June.
In the NRL squad currently, we have Jai Arrow, Jai Whitbread, Michael Gordon, AJ Brimson, Anthony Don among 10 locals in our team. We've got 14 of those players from the winning Andrew Johns Cup side signed up.
Titans call on public to support returning Taylor
So we are the second south-east Queensland team. We deserve that. I acknowledge again that we have had our ups and downs, but we believe we've got the right ownership model.
We do have some difficulties around our cap, but with that in mind just give us 12 months to two years and that will be under control as well. Then people will start to realise how well this club is going.
The review I completed and handed to the board last Monday was never a witch-hunt about the coach. It was a review of the football department overall and how all those parts can do things a lot better.
We're going to start what is virtually a football eco-system that is strong and durable, so it doesn't matter what coach is at the helm.
It will be called the Junior Titans System that will protect ourselves in the future from any challenges we have at the top level. So our development system, pathways, community programs – in other words, the way we do things – we want to make rock solid.
Titans v Storm - Round 18
We build from the grassroots up. We make our community work even more fantastic, attract even more juniors into our leagues, we want to strengthen the ties with our two Intrust Super Cup teams.
The eventual product will be this unique connection to our rugby league community that no other club can equal. We want to be the strongest rugby league community club in the game.
Our grip in this area is already unique in that we have a foot in three great pathways already – the Andrew Johns and Laurie Daley (under Under-18s) Cups in NSW and the Mal Meninga Cup in Queensland.
Rugby league needs to remain in this region.