Meninga’s Titans Christmas shopping list
MAL Meninga says the Titans will go shopping for new players as soon as the November 1 deadline when clubs can table offers to off-contract players. Their hit list includes Bronco sensation David Fifita.
The Titans head of performance and culture said the season may finish on Saturday night with the final home against the Dragons but the hard work begins on Monday morning.
"The focus of the players and coaches may not extend much further than Saturday night, but for us working behind the scenes at the club, the view is a little further afield. November 1, to be precise," Meninga told members.
"Much has been made of the fact that the Titans have Jai Arrow and AJ Brimson off-contract at the end of 2020 - and therefore, both players are able to be approached by rival clubs from November 1.
"But it seems to have been forgotten there are 15 other NRL clubs with talented players able to negotiate in the first week of November. And there are some that we are very, very interested in having a chat with."
Meninga says the Titans have 14 players - including Arrow and Brimson - coming off contract at the end of 2020.
"Will all 14 of those players be at the Titans in 2021? Realistically, the answer is no. But that means we will have the money and roster places available to chase players that we want to be here," he said.
Meninga is acutely aware of the rosters of rival teams.
"Brisbane have 12 players off contract, Canberra have 15, South Sydney have 9, the Roosters have 11, and the Melbourne Storm have 21 players able to negotiate on November 1," he told members, in his regular club column.
"It is a buyer's market, and we are keen to go shopping. We will apply our new recruitment criteria in assessing the credentials of players we are interested in.
"Are they from the Gold Coast? Are they the right character to be Titans? Can they improve us as a club on and off the field with the standards they expect from themselves and demand from others?
"Plenty fit that criteria. Will we be talking to David Fifita about returning to the Gold Coast? Where he went to school at Palm Beach Currumbin High School. Of course we will.
"What about his Broncos teammate Thomas Flegler, who could follow Jai Arrow's path to State of Origin by becoming a senior player at the Titans. Absolutely.
"Canberra's Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad. Josh Jackson and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak from the Dogs.
"Felise Kaufusi and Ryan Papenhuyzen at Melbourne. Kyle Feldt and Jordan McLean at the Cowboys. We would be keen to have a chat with all of them."
While many Titans fans have vented their frustrations on social media, Meninga has defended the club's decision to let Arrow's manager go to the open market before November 1 saying it was "commonsense".
"We have made it clear that Jai is seen as a player this club can build around for the years ahead. He is undoubtedly a future leader of the Titans," Meninga said.
"But if, despite our best efforts, Jai's manager should decide his client's future is away from the Gold Coast, we can begin the difficult task to try to replace him."
Meninga in his final words to fans for season 2019 asked them to "stick solid" because the club was "going in the right direction" and better days were ahead.
"It is doubly-hard to take with people outside of the club putting the boot in to the Titans, and accusing you - our fans - of not caring about the club enough to see it survive.
"We are building something special here and we want you to be a part of it," he said.