After four years at Sydney Roosters, Brad Takairangi could see himself being squeezed. With Sonny Bill Williams joining the club, what he could not see was him in the Roosters’ best line-up.
So just weeks before the competition began this year, Takairangi up and left, joining Gold Coast Titans – but returned on Sunday in the penultimate round to inflict some sort of revenge on his old club and their new star.
”There was a big queue down here, and there was an opportunity to cement myself in a starting spot for an NRL team,” Takairangi said. ”That’s been the best move for me.” Takairangi produced an assist with a superb offload to winger Anthony Don and then scored the try which put the Titans in front for the final time against the Roosters at Allianz Stadium, keeping his side’s finals hopes alive.
The centre said the win – and the 73rd minute try which clinched it – meant a bit more because they occurred against his old club. But he didn’t feel any ill-will towards the Roosters.
”I left on good terms with them,” Takairangi said. ”I’ve still got some really close friends there. But it’s definitely sweet to get down here and get a win. First and foremost, we came down here looking to do a job on them.” Titans coach John Cartwright rated that job one of the best his side has produced. The Titans were forced to name just 16 players on Tuesday – with one bench spot to be confirmed – before applying during the week to the NRL to play Jordan Atkins. Cartwright said the club had just 19 fit players to choose from against the Roosters.
They are now almost certain to be without their co-captain Nate Myles (ankle), against Melbourne in the final round. ”It doesn’t look good,” Cartwright said of Myles’s short-term prospects.
Not so his team’s courage. ”It’d be right up there, considering who we had out, and they were pretty much full strength at their home ground,” Cartwright said. ”Not a lot went our way. It’s right up there.
”You’ve only got to look at what the two sides were paying, if you like a bet on your footy. There was a lot of character and grit, especially considering we probably had close to a full side sitting on the bench.” The Titans were paying $14 to win prior to the contest. One punter put $30,000 on the Roosters, paying $1.03, to win $900.
The Titans will be outsiders again when they face Melbourne on Saturday, but they remain in the hunt for the finals.
”We’ve got confidence in our own ability,” second-rower Greg Bird said. ”We know we can beat the top teams, and we’ve shown it this year. The consistency hasn’t been there, but when we’ve turned up, we’ve beaten a few of the top-four teams.”
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.