The iSelect Gold Coast Titans have added further depth to their developing roster for season 2014 and beyond with the recruitment of four promising signings.
Centres Maurice Blair (Melbourne Storm) and Siuatonga Likiliki (Newcastle Knights) will join the club’s exciting young backline next season, while 2012 NYC Team of the Year member Paul Carter (Bulldogs) and current Under-20s halfback Christian Hazard (South Sydney Rabbitohs) will add further depth in the forward pack and halves respectively.
Blair, Carter and Hazard will join the club on two-year contracts for seasons 2014 and 2015, while Likiliki joins the club on a one-year agreement for 2014.
iSelect Titans Coach John Cartwright said the quartet would strengthen the club’s depth in key areas.
“They are all in positions that we’ve needed a bit of strengthening and they all have plenty of upside in them, all very young, well credentialed and we look forward to getting them to the club,’’ said Cartwright.
“We think their best years are in front of them. With a taste of first grade next year and over the coming years they have the ability to establish themselves as first graders
“Maurice is a little bit different and is a little bit more experienced and this is a chance for him to come home. But the other three are kids with plenty of upside in them as far as age is concerned and the opportunity that we are able to give them.’’
Blair, who hails from Maryborough, has amassed 78 NRL appearances since making his debut for the Penrith Panthers in 2007 and has cemented himself as a regular in the Storm’s backline during 2013.
“He has spent some time at Penrith and down in Melbourne. He was in the Storm’s first grade side until recently when he suffered a bit of a neck injury but he’s 100 per cent fine and I expect him to be back in the side for Melbourne in the run into the semis,’’ said Cartwright.
“He’s a really good footballer, a try scorer and a strong defender who can cover five-eighth, centre and back row. Any guy like that who has played the amount of first grade that he has is a very handy acquisition for us.’’
Likiliki, a 23-year-old who was named in the NYC Team of the year in 2009 and 2010, has played three NRL matches to date and was named at centre in the NSW Cup Team of the Year last season while playing for the Knights.
“He can play wing and centre and we have been short in those areas this year at times and has all his best football in front of him,’’ said Cartwright.
“He’s a man mountain, a very big man who is very powerful and we look forward to getting him to the club.’’
Carter, the 21-year-old son of former Penrith Panthers great Steve Carter, is a promising young back rower who has been playing for the Bulldogs’ NSW Cup team in 2013 since graduating from the NYC Under-20s competition last year.
“We’re in a position over the next few years where we are going to need some youth in that back row and Paul fills that bill there,’’ said Cartwright.
“I played with his father and if he’s as half as good as his father, he’s going to be a great player for us.’’
Cartwright said 18-year-old Hazard was one to watch for the future after starring for the Rabbitohs Under-20s side this year.
“He’s one of the better halfbacks I’ve watched in the Under-20s competition this year. He’s originally from Toowoomba so is getting back near home,’’ said Cartwright.
“Anyone who saw our Under-20s game against Souths a couple of weeks ago will see the talent that this kid has. He’s got a bit of a queue in front of him down there and sees some opportunity here.’’