Titans coach says his players must earn berth
GARTH Brennan says he's not about to hand out Titans jerseys cheaply just because the finals are out of reach.
Gold Coast have blooded several young players this season, with teenagers Moeaki Fotuaika and AJ Brimson and 20-year-old Jai Whitbread making their NRL debuts.
With the Titans out of finals contention and the club going through a rebuilding phase, Brennan would be forgiven for testing fringe candidates in the final round to assess their NRL ability.
But the rookie coach rejected the idea, saying players had to earn the right to play for the club.
"I certainly wouldn't just throw a jumper out to anyone, they've got to earn the right," Brennan said.
"I owe it to our fans, our sponsors and our supporters that the people I put in there are ready to go."
Brennan has shown he is not afraid to give young players a chance - often at the expense of big names if they are not performing.
But he would not blood a player for the sake of it.
"To throw a young guy in if I don't think he's ready for it is only going to do him more damage than good," Brennan said.
"That's why I held AJ (Brimson) back so long, I didn't want to throw him in too early.
"I knew what AJ possessed and it wasn't that I was doubting his ability, I just wanted to make sure that he played eight or nine games against men in the Queensland Cup, which he did.
"I copped some grief by playing Bryce (Cartwright) in that position but I did that because I had a plan and I wasn't going to rush AJ.
"I held him back to make sure he was ready to go and he has been, it's worked out to be a good call."
The young guns have done a magnificent job this season, with experienced players including captain Ryan James excited at what they bring to the team.
"We've got a pretty young squad which is good for the Gold Coast because you can stay together for a pretty long time and you've got a pretty good core group of kids and they're all just fighting for spots and playing good footy and hungry," James said.
"It's great for the club and hopefully every week we can just get the most out of them."