Titans Target Burns


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Titans 'secret' shopping list for 2008

Luke Turgeon


THE Gold Coast Titans have compiled a secret hit list of hot young National Rugby League talent, which they hope to recruit to the Gold Coast in 2008.

Gold Coast managing director Michael Searle has made no secret of the fact that he is chasing a 'big bopper' for the forward pack and a classy half to bolster the Titans playing stocks for next season.

The Gold Coast Bulletin can reveal red-haired Panthers five-eighth Peter Wallace, tenacious Sea Eagles No.6 Travis Burns, Roosters half Josh Lewis and giant Eels forward Feleti Mateo are in talks with the Titans.
All four are off contract at the end of the year.

Searle remained tight-lipped about exactly which players the club is hunting, but revealed he would kick off his recruitment drive in June.

"The main things we are working through at the moment are recruitment and retention," said Searle.

"We have been working on the recruitment of a potential front rower and a five-eighth."

Searle said the recruitment drive was not a reflection on the current squad, rather a pre-emptive move to grow depth in key positions.

"We have felt that we want to acquire another player in the halves that could support us if something went wrong with Princey (Scott Prince)," said Searle.

"We are actually probably looking for a guy that can play both in the No.7 and the No.6."

It was originally thought the Gold Coast would have a substantial amount of money to spend on new talent in 2008, after the loss of Brian Carney, Steve Turner and Frank Puletua freed up funds earlier this year.

At first the Titans considered hunting another 'big name' signing, but Searle said whoever they decided to sign would be an investment for the future.

"I would much prefer to cover the two positions with quality first graders," said Searle.

"We already have Luke Bailey, Scott Prince, Preston Campbell, Mat Rogers, Anthony Laffranchi.

"So we have got some fairly impressive marquee players already."

Up until June 30 a player's existing club has the right to be kept informed of their contract negotiations with other clubs.

A player's existing club has to give permission for the transfer and has the right to lodge a counter offer to keep the player's services. If those guidelines aren't met, the NRL won't register the contract with the new club.

After June 30, clubs are free to negotiate with individual players however they wish.

"From our point of view, we will wait to see how it all pans out and put our offers in probably by the middle of June," said Searle.

"We are waiting to find out the finalisation of our salary cap and what it will end up being. So we have to be careful with that."

Four top level Titans -- hooker Clint Amos, five-eighth Matt Hilder and wingers Lelea Paea and Chris Walker -- are on one-year deals.

Searle said the salary cap would heavily decide which ones were retained for next season.

"Next year a few of the players contracts escalate," said Searle.

"And you have to take into account bonuses and payments as well.

"There are a lot of guys playing a lot more football than we thought originally and their payments get assessed next year under the cap.

"It is a moving beast all the time depending on who is in your squad and who is playing."

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