Titan stars distraught as club looks ahead

Gold Coast coach Neil Henry says Titans players are trying to focus on their upcoming NRL season opener despite the drugs charges that have left five of their teammates “distraught”.

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Henry says those players stood down after being served with notices to appear in a Gold Coast court next month on cocaine supply and possession charges are concerned about their futures.

State of Origin stars David Taylor and Greg Bird, along with Beau Falloon, Kalifa Faifai Loa and Jamie Dowling, face charges stemming from a Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission investigation into an alleged drug trafficking syndicate.

Former Titan Joe Vickery and Queensland Reds star Karmichael Hunt are also among those facing court next month.

Henry says he has spoken with the quintet, who are upset at the situation they’ve put the club and the code in.

“They’re certainly in varying degrees of being distraught about the situation,” he said.

“It’s only human nature. It’s a lot of pressure on the players.

“They understand the seriousness of the allegations but they’re bound by their legal representatives not to say much at this stage.”

The Titans got back to business on Monday as the rest of the squad took part in a recovery session following Saturday’s 30-10 pre-season trial loss to North Queensland in Cairns.

The session was held at a public swimming pool on the Gold Coast.

None of the players would comment to the waiting media on the situation, which Henry admits is a distraction.

He said that, with less than two weeks until their first NRL fixture against the Wests Tigers in Robina on March 7, he wasn’t in a position to seek out replacements.

He also said the club hadn’t approached the NRL for special salary cap dispensation to seek room to sign more players.

“We’ll wait and see from what sanctions come out of that, whether we’ve lost players permanently or players are stood down or what have you,” he said.

“You’d hope if we’re losing players there’d be some way that we would have some cap dispensation so that we could move in the market to fill the void.”

The Titans are still seeking a permanent training base after walking away from their arrangement with the Southport School on Friday in the wake of the drug allegations.

This week the team will train in Kingscliffe on Tuesday but that is a temporary fix and no venue has been confirmed for Thursday’s session.

Sponsors and the NRL have re-affirmed their commitment to the club in then wake of the scandal, with NRL chief executive Dave Smith saying it was a minority at the club that had transgressed.

The club is yet to decide whether to sign off on a proposed purpose-built training centre in partnership with the Gold Coast City Council in Coomera or to be based at the Parkwood International Golf Course.

The council said they remained committed to supporting the Titans, while Parkwood managing director Luke Altschwager told the Gold Coast Bulletin the scandal hadn’t affected negotiations.

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