Gold Coast Titans coach John Cartwright issues instructions to his weary troops while they catch their breath during a sun-scorched training run.
Gold Coast Titans coach John Cartwright issues instructions to his weary troops while they catch their breath during a sun-scorched training run. John Gass

Titans stirring

IN Greek mythology, the Titans were a race of powerful deities who ruled during the so-called Golden Age.

Could a new golden age be coming for the Gold Coast Titans as they head into the new National Rugby League season?

Last season the Titans had their worst year since entering the NRL, winding up with the proverbial wooden spoon which in turn stirred the club into initiating an astute recruitment drive during the off-season.

Injuries to key forwards which badly depleted the up-front firepower plus a distinct lack of attacking weaponry in the backs all contributed to coach, John Cartwright's "annus horribilis".

But a visit last Monday to the Titans' first training run after a short yuletide season break and a browse through the player roster gives every indication the Titans will be a force in the 2012 competition - belying their rank outsider odds in betting markets.

The Titans are $34 to win the premiership, $11 to make the grand final and a nice juicy $3.25 to figure in the final eight.

Titans supporters are certain to snap up the $3.25 and also have a slash at the $34 for Gold Coast to hoist aloft the Provan-Summons Trophy come October.

The Titans really are huge 'overs' in all aspects of the betting markets - not that betting is the be-all-end-all of supporting a rugby league team.

There's just so much to like about Cartwright's 2012 squad.

The sun scorched down on Robina's Station Reserve last Monday when the Titans regrouped to get rid of the Christmas pud and begin the countdown to the start of the season.

The mercury hovered around the 34-degree mark throughout the 90-minute training session - crikey, the players did it tougher than Lawrence of Arabia when he crossed the desert to Aqaba.

Cartwright was over the moon with how the squad members 'put in' in their first hit-out since before Christmas.

"Not one of them shirked their work despite the oppressive conditions," Cartwright said.

"A terrific indication of their fitness and enthusiasm came at the end of the session when the players formed two lines facing each other - they linked arms with the blokes beside them and then proceeded to do 50 sit-ups in unison with one of the trainers calling out the numbers.

"They went hard at it and it was only over the final seven or so sit-ups that they got a bit ragged - it was a great piece of work and I was proud of 'em all."

The Titans will be a much more formidable line-up in 2012 thanks to a shrewd recruitment drive which has bolstered the pack and ensured there'll be plenty of tries chalked up out wide.

Beau Champion, Phil Graham, Jamal Idris, Beau Faloon and Aidan Sezer are all capable of not only creating scoring chances but plonking the pill over the tryline themselves.

Creative skipper and halfback Scott Prince is going to have an exciting time of it this season with those men on his outside.

But since time immemorial, it is forwards that win matches and the Titans this season will field a tough, skilful pack which also boasts plenty of depth.

Cartwright has so much talent to call on in the likes of Nate Myles, Luke Bailey, Michael Henderson, Luke Douglas, Brenton Lawrence, Greg Bird, Ashley Harrison, Ben Ridge, Ryan James and Mark Minichiello.

That $3.25 about making the top eight is looking increasingly attractive!

The Titans start the season with a trial match against the Warriors in Auckland on February 4 and the following week they will tackle Brisbane Broncos at Miami's Pizzey Park.

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