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The ones who got away: Gold Coast Titans

This is the 14th article in the series where I’ll pick a team of the best players who got away from a club since 2000. Today – the Gold Coast Titans.

The only criteria are that the player named must have made his debut for the Titans, left the club after 2000, and then played with another NRL club, rather than just retired or headed to obscurity in either the ESL or rugby.

(Details in brackets are the year the player debuted for the Titans and the number of games played for the club.)

1. David Mead (2009, 147 games)

Mead was a very talented player with speed to burn and he could play anywhere in the outside backs. He played 15 tests for PNG, captaining them on many occasions. It was a sad day for the club when he was signed by the Broncos for the 2017 season.

2. Jordan Atkins (2008, 28 games)

Atkins was a late bloomer, making his debut at age 25, and he couldn’t have wished for a better start, running in four tries in his first game in the top grade. He struggled to hold down a first grade spot over the next couple of seasons, however, and then signed with Parramatta in 2011.

3. Dominique Peyroux (2011, 16 games)

Peyroux had played three games for the Cook Islands before he made his first grade debut towards the end of the 2011 season, but failed to kick-on with the Titans the following year, and then signed with the Warriors for the 2013 season. Has now found his level in the ESL.

4. Jesse Arthars (2019, 12 games)

After coming through the ranks at Melbourne and then Souths, Arthars looked the goods when he finally made his debut at the Titans midway through 2019, but he slipped through their fingers when he was signed by the Broncos for 2020 and beyond.

5. Esikili Tonga (2008, 36 games)

Tonga debuted at age 20, but his career with the Titans was largely hampered by injury. He was part of the Gold Coast’s wooden spoon-winning team in 2011 and picked up another when he made the mistake of joining the Eels in 2012.

6. Aidan Sezer (2012, 71 games)

Sezer made a solid start to his career after debuting as a 20-year-old, and became a prolific point scorer for the club. Unfortunately, they managed to lose him to the Raiders in 2016, where his career well and truly kicked on.

Aidan Sezer

(Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images)

7. Jamal Fogarty (2017, 41 games)

Losing one good half to Canberra is careless, losing another is downright negligent. Fogarty was one of the Titans’ best, and captain of the side, when he asked for a release to join Canberra in 2022. What were they thinking?

8. Ryan James (2010, 144 games)

James had some good years with the Gold Coast, but after missing all of the 2020 season due to injury, he moved to the Raiders in 2021. The Titans had the best of James’ career.

9. Karl Lawton (2016, 12 games)

Lawton played just half a game in his debut season before injury sat him down, but he bounced back the next season to be a regular member of the squad during the first half of the season. The Titans released him early in the 2018 season so that he could sign with the Warriors, a decision that was probably the best for all concerned.

10. Brenton Lawrence (2011, 18 games)

Lawrence looked good during his time with the Titans and offered a lot in both attack and defence. Manly snuck under their guard and signed him for 2013, and he proved to be a very good signing for the Sea Eagles.

11. Bodene Thompson (2009, 50 games)

One of the more restless players the game has seen, Thompson’s odyssey began on the Gold Coast in 2009, before being released to join the Tigers. The Titans were never going to hold on to him.

12. Paul Carter (2014, 21 games)

Carter had plenty of talent, and some great footballing genes, but he just couldn’t stay on the straight and narrow, which saw his Titans career over after one season. Better to cut this loose cannon loose.

13. Max King (2017, 38 games)

King is a very good forward who has blossomed this season at the Bulldogs. After making a solid start to his career with the Titans he was traded to Melbourne in 2019. A player the Titans should have hung on to.

Apart from a pair of good halves, and a couple of useful forwards in Lawrence and King, this isn’t such a telling list when compared to some clubs, primarily due to the fact that the Titans haven’t been around as long as the rest.

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