Titans go overseas for James replacement
THE Gold Coast Titans have landed on a replacement for injured forward Ryan James, signing New Zealand Warriors prop Sam Lisone.
Lisone is finalising a release from his Warriors contract and will join the Titans immediately ahead of the 2020 NRL season.
The Titans have been pushing to secure former Broncos prop Herman Ese'ese from Newcastle, but the Knights have been unwilling to part ways with him.
The Titans are lacking front-row depth after James was ruled out for the entire season following a knee injury sustained at training late last month.
But the club has acted and will bring Lisone across the Tasman, likely this week, on a one-year deal.
Lisone, 26, has played 85 NRL games for the Warriors since debuting in 2015.
But he has made only 11 appearances in each of the past two seasons and is on the outer with Warriors coach Stephen Kearney.
Lisone will bolster the Gold Coast's middle-forward depth, especially with reigning player of the year Moeaki Fotuaika in danger of missing Round 1.
Fotuaika's return from wrist surgery has been painfully slow and coach Justin Holbrook admits the star is touch-and-go to face the Raiders in Canberra on March 13.
"He's still a few weeks away," Holbrook said.
"Hopefully he will be right for Round 1. I'm not sure yet. We've still got three more weeks. We'll do our best to get him right.
"He would be great to have, we know how good a player he is. Hopefully he will be good to go."
The Titans made a bumbling start to their preseason trials campaign, losing 18-16 to the Intrust Super Cup's Burleigh Bears on Friday night.
The entire starting 13 for the Titans were full-time contracted NRL players coming up against the semi-professional Bears - a quality team that won last year's ISC premiership.
Holbrook said while the loss wasn't ideal, it was a step up in class for a lot of the Titans' younger players.
"It was a tough game against a good Queensland Cup opposition," he said.
"It was a good night for a lot of our young blokes to step up from what they're used to playing at. It was a good hit-out for them
"It's definitely not ideal losing, we wanted to win. The experience of their side over ours was probably the difference and they hung on.
"It wasn't a step down in class for us as an opposition, it was a step up for two thirds of our side. They would have got a lot out of it."
Holbrook said he would field his best team in Saturday's final pre-season trial against the Broncos at Redcliffe.