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Cup to NRL graduate: Tony Francis

Tony Francis is renowned in Hostplus Cup circles for the energy he brings to each game.

And this weekend, the Tweed Seagulls and former Burleigh Bears winger will get the chance to take that attitude to a higher level when he makes his highly-anticipated NRL debut for the Gold Coast Titans against the Brisbane Broncos.

It’s a deserved promotion for the 2023 grand final back who has racked up 45 games across his Cup career – 42 for the Bears and three for the Seagulls, who he was assigned to this year through his Titans affiliation.

For his former coach Luke Burt, this moment was always coming after the 21-year-old put in some hard yards around his defensive game last year.

“We’ve very, very proud,” the Bears mentor said of Francis.

“Tony called me on Tuesday, a very excited young man. It was really good news.

“His strengths come on and off field. On the field, it’s his back field carries. The more physical it gets, the more excited Tony gets, which is a really good trait for NRL.

“But he also worked really, really hard on his defensive game last year and when that improved out of sight, he looked like an NRL player.”

Francis signed a fresh two-year deal with the Titans at the end of last year, off the back of going all the way to the Cup grand final with the Burleigh Bears.

His Tweed coach, Dave Penna, had an inkling that Francis’ NRL debut would come this year following good feedback from the Titans.

“Tone’s been 18th man a couple of times for the Titans and I know that he impressed the coaching staff with his efforts in pre-season and in the trials," Penna said.

“He’s only a young man but he’s waited his time and won’t let anybody down.

“Tony’s averaged 15 to 20 carries for us and it takes a lot of pressure off the middle.

“He’s a big body and he gets us on the front foot. He’s a handy player to have and he’s like a big middle that plays on the wing for us. He brings a lot.”

The Titans currently sit in 16th on the NRL ladder with two wins and eight losses.

They will look to try to move further up when they take on the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.

And Francis’ energy could be key to this resurgence, with both Burt and Penna in agreement that the young gun’s personality is just as important to whichever team he is playing for as his ability on the field.

“He’s a character. He’s a real character,” Burt said.

“He brings a lot of energy to training sessions. He was only with us on a Friday because he mostly trained with the Titans, but the boys loved having him around.

“He was loud, very loud, but really brought energy.”

Penna echoed Burt’s sentiments.

“He’s great to have around the team,” Penna said.

“He buys into the atmosphere and he’s a funny fella and the guys love him. He’s been knocking on the NRL door for a little while now. It’s really exciting to see him get his opportunity, it’s really deserved.”

Acknowledgement of Country

Gold Coast Titans proudly acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are situated, the Kombumerri families of the Yugambeh Language Region. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging, and recognise their continuing connections to the lands, waters and their extended communities throughout South East Queensland.