The Gold Coast Titans season may be over, but there are two players that fans will be watching with keen interest over the coming month of NRL finals footy. Tino Fa'asuamaleaui and Herman Ese’ese.
They are currently Storm and Knights players, but come Round 1, 2021 they will be wearing the blue, gold and white of the Gold Coast Titans.
Titans.com.au has taken a look at the ‘future Titans’ opposition, key matchups and where we think they can make an impact in week 1 of the NRL Finals.
Finals Week 1
Melbourne Storm v Parramatta Eels
Saturday 3 October | 7:50pm
A week's rest and a spot in a preliminary final is on the line when the Melbourne Storm host the Parramatta Eels at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
Melbourne will be unconcerned about entering the clash off a last-start loss as their unshakeable hold on second spot granted them the luxury of fielding the second least-experienced side in NRL history against a Dragons outfit focused on a final dose of redemption for 2020.
Parramatta rebounded well to confirm their place in the top four after Wests Tigers looked on course to deny them the double chance in round 20, but they will have to go up a couple of gears, and maintain that intensity for the full 80 minutes, if they are to challenge Melbourne.
For Fa'asuamaleaui, he will come off the bench as he has done for much of the year to provide his usual impact with the dynamic Brandon Smith, and you can expect him to take it to the Eels middle forwards.
Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Junior Paulo and Nathan Brown have all been standouts for the Eels this season and Fa'asuamaleaui and his fellow Storm forwards will want to get it over their opposing pack to lay a platform for the likes of Cameron Smith and Cameron Munster to shine.
The Storm go in strong favourites, but either way we will be seeing Fa'asuamaleaui again this year as the Storm finished second and earnt the right to have two bites at the finals cherry.
Finals Week 1
Newcastle Knights v South Sydney Rabbitohs
Sunday 4 October | 3:05pm
One team beat the back-to-back premiers by 52 points last weekend, the other was beaten by our boys, the Gold Coast Titans.
Newcastle - the side entering Sunday's elimination final at ANZ Stadium wanting to move on from Round 20 - will be hoping their first finals appearance since 2013 lasts for more than one week as it all goes on the line in the elimination final.
South Sydney can't be expected to repeat the brilliance they displayed last weekend (60-8 winners over the Sydney Roosters), but even 80 per cent of that might be enough for Wayne Bennett's side to advance to week two of the finals.
Future Titan, Ese’ese, will come from the bench and likely replace David Klemmer or Daniel Saifiti as he has done over the back half of the season. His good footwork at the line and quick play the balls allow makeshift hooker Kurt Mann to play fast against a retreating Rabbitohs defence.
The Souths Sydney pack didn’t receive much praise early in the season but were able to lay a good platform for their electric backline last week and Ese’ese and the Knights forward pack will need to dominate early to avoid the same fate as the Roosters in round 20.
There may not be any current Titans playing in the finals, but many fans will watch (and cheer) on with interest to see a glimpse of what 2021 has in store on the Gold Coast.