Jarrod Wallace says home-grown talents Moeaki Fotuaika, Jai Arrow and AJ Brimson will be the “core” of the Gold Coast Titans rebuild in the seasons ahead.
While there has been little to cheer for Titans fans during the 2019 season, the green shoots of optimism poking through at the back-end of the season are proof of better times ahead on the Gold Coast.
The significant coup of signing St Helens coach Justin Holbrook as the Titans new head coach was the first of these, followed by improving performances against the competition’s best teams late in the season, and then this week the announcement that prop Fotuaika has been locked in on a new deal that will keep him at he Titans until at least the end of 2022.
Both Arrow and Brimson are signed to the Titans for the 2020 season, but the Gold Coast want to lock the pair up to long-term deals sooner rather than later.
Both will be able to field offers from rival clubs for 2021 from November 1.
Wallace said together the trio – all Gold Coast juniors proud to represent their region and community in the NRL – would be the ones the Titans could build the club’s culture and future around.
Wallace says the Titans took a major step forward towards that future with the contract extension for Fotuaika.
“He has a massive future – not just here, but in the NRL itself,” Wallace said. “I think he has been fantastic for us the last two years.
“He got his start last year having only just turned 18, and he probably played a lot more games due to the amount of injuries that we got. But he handled it perfectly, now he is a very important part of our side.
“He is massive in defence, and a big core of our attack. He gets a lot of metres going forward for the boys.
“It is guys like him and AJ Brimson – and I am sure they will try to find a little bit of money for Jai somewhere along the road – those three guys are a massive core of this club. They are definitely guys that we need to keep.”
Wallace said he was impressed with Arrow’s rapid development since joining the Titans.
Coming to the club at the start of 2018 as a rookie from the Broncos chasing an opportunity, Arrow has matured into a natural on-field leader at the Titans, and a State of Origin player with Queensland.
It is no surprise that the Burleigh Bears junior and former Palm Beach Currumbin High School student is in demand, but Wallace hopes Arrow’s strong family ties and emotional connection to the Gold Coast will keep him at the Titans.
“I always muck around with him and say he doesn’t deserve it, but what he has done is a full credit to him,” Wallace said. “He has come down here, he has trained hard. He is one of our leaders now at only 24 years old.
“He has been outstanding for the past two years – even with a bit of a setback this year with that injury. He has come back and is just as good as when he left.
“We just need him to stay on the park and play some good footy. I am very happy for him. He is laying some good footy and I definitely don’t want to lose him.”