Opinion: Missing DCE key to Titans revival and Hayne signing

By Dale Budge

Ash Taylor looks to pass the ball against the Melbourne Storm. Photo / Getty Images
Ash Taylor looks to pass the ball against the Melbourne Storm. Photo / Getty Images

The best thing that ever happened to the Gold Coast Titans was Daly Cherry-Evans reneging on his deal last year. If he hadn't done that Jarryd Hayne would not be in Titans colours.

At the time it seemed like a catastrophic blow as the Titans were struggling to be competitive on the park, finding it hard to recruit quality players and reeling from the recreational drugs scandal featuring a number of their players. The signing of Cherry-Evans was seen as the cornerstone move that would turn the club's fortunes around.
That's why it felt like rock bottom for Titans fans when he did his now-famous back-flip and agreed to a new lifetime deal with Manly.

But as it has panned out the Titans are better off without Cherry-Evans and his big contract. They wouldn't have been in a financial position to sign former Eels and NFL star Hayne.

The Titans, who were overwhelming favourites to win the wooden spoon this year, are now a genuine title threat with the addition of Hayne, not just in the future but possibly as early as this season.

After missing out on former Queensland and Australian halfback Cherry-Evans the Titans recruited Broncos junior Ash Taylor and former Knights playmaker Tyrone Roberts as well as re-signing standout rookie from last year Kane Elgey. Elgey cruelly went down with a season-ending injury in the pre-season but Roberts and Taylor, in particular, have been sensational for the underrated franchise. Taylor is the raging hot favourite to win the Dally M Rookie of the Year award and has probably had a better head-to-head season than Cherry-Evans despite being on a pittance by comparison.

Skipper Ryan James has had a career year and must have been extremely close to a NSW call-up during the State of Origin period. Little known players like Nene MacDonald and Anthony Don have been played at a consistently high level while former Kiwi Josh Hoffman has had his best season since his days with Brisbane. The mid-season pick-up of former Eels hooker Nathan Peats has added plenty as well.

The Titans have been competitive in almost every game they have played this season. Aside from a 34-16 loss to the Storm in round two and a 38-0 pounding against the same opposition in round nine the Titans have been right in every other game this year showing an ability to get into a grind with the best teams in the competition.

When you throw a genuine superstar like Hayne into the mix, the Titans all of a sudden have the x-factor to blow those close games open.

Hayne has won two Dally M medals for being the best player in the game and was the catalyst for NSW's State of Origin win in 2014 - almost single-handedly breaking Queensland run of series wins.

Titans fans thought the announcement of Cherry-Evans' signature was to be the turning point of the NRL's youngest franchise. They were wrong - they just had to wait another 12 months or so for Hayne's.

- NZ Herald

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