Titans claim Coffs Coast
By GREG WHITE
COFFS Harbour and the wider Group 2 region will have a new footy team to support when Jetstar Gold Coast Titans make their NRL debut here on February 17.
The Titans will play a trial match against the Melbourne Storm at the renamed BCU International Stadium with football manager Scott Sattler confirming the local area will rapidly expand as a revised catchment area.
"Originally we were going to cut off our operations around Grafton," he said.
"But with the various partnerships already formed we thought it sensible to move the boundary south and the game with the Storm will increase our profile immensely."
When asked where exactly those new boundaries would be, Sattler turned to Sawtell coach Craig Wallace and joked: "Corner of the highway near Wal's surf shop."
Wallace, a player in their former era, will assist with local development and talent-spotting.
Two Panther proteges, Dennis and Kevin Gordon, have already linked with Gold Coast.
"The club has allowed me to stay local for two years to complete my education," Kevin Gordon said.
"I can remain playing with the Panthers and I'm pleased about that."
In a touch of irony, Sattler's travelling companion was the Storm's grand final hooker Nathan Friend, a marquee signing for the new operation and destined to face his former team-mates on February 17.
Since being re-admitted as the 16th NRL franchise, the Titans have been steadily building local profile.
Their first competitive appearance anywhere came last January at the Orara Valley Sevens and they - along with future NRL rivals South Sydney Rabbitohs - will be returning to the same event next month.
An opportunity program began in conjunction with John Paul College earlier in the year and the Titans most recent endeavour is an academy project with Port Macquarie Sharks.
"There is so much we can do building a good feeling in the community," Sattler said.
"We can foster opportunities for talent and by having a visible, continuing presence, we'll be a league team the community will be proud to support."
During the re-naming presentation, the mayor, Cr Keith Rhoades, didn't miss the opportunity to lay some 'bait' before Sattler. "We appreciate your involvement and look forward to developing the partnership," he said, a pointed reminder of the long-held dream of hosting an NRL competition round at the BCU International Stadium.