The Titans have signed former Broncos Under 20s player Cameron Cullen to a six-week 'train and trial' contract in the wake of the season-ending injury to Kane Elgey last week.
Having returned to the Gold Coast late last year following the tragic death of his brother, Justin, while holidaying in the Maldives, Cullen signed to play with Burleigh this season after a year with the Mackay Cutters in the Intrust Super Cup in 2015.
While based in Mackay, Cullen spent the pre-season training with the North Queensland Cowboys and was used off the bench in their trial game against the Broncos last February.
A former Australian Schoolboys representative and a member of the Queensland Residents squad last year, Cullen had his first training session with the Titans last week and now has six weeks to prove he deserves a longer-term contract in 2016.
Given his move back to the Gold Coast, Cullen was in line to figure in trials with the Titans on February 13 when they simultaneously play the Eels in Alice Springs and the Warriors in Whangarei, but his elevation to the NRL squad has been fast-tracked following the injury to Elgey.
Now 22, Cullen told Mackay's Daily Mercury two months ago that the accidental death of his brother had further strengthened his resolve to finally earn an NRL berth.
“One of the last things I actually spoke to my brother about before he went on that surfing trip, and it's always been a goal of mine, is to play NRL,” Cullen told the Mercury.
“He said to me, ‘Mate, I can bet you my house on it, you'll get into an NRL system’. I've always been motivated to play first grade, but now it's at the next level.”
Titans forward Ryan James drove to Brisbane to attend Justin's funeral on July 31 last year having played alongside him in the Group 18 Under 15s representative team in 2006.
While disappointed by the injury to Elgey, James said the addition of Cullen would add some much-needed depth to the halves.
“I really feel for Kane. He came off the back of a really great year and he made the PM's side and he was probably our fittest during the pre-season so it's a massive blow for us,” James said.
“We've recruited well. We've got Ash Taylor now and another new local recruit [Cullen] so it's good for the team.”
Former Bronco Ashley Taylor will be given first crack at partnering former Newcastle half Tyrone Roberts in the Titans halves and James said that despite his young age, the 20-year-old had already begun to assert himself on the team.
“He came in with a hand injury and had to have surgery again which put him back but now he's starting to get into his own stride,” he said.
“He's a confident young bloke, he gets around and talks. He's good with ball-in-hand and he gets into the line really well which Kane does as well. It's good that they're kind of similar players but he's got his own stamp as well.
“Obviously he's going to have step up and it's going to be a good opportunity for him and we'll just have to see how he goes.”
This first appeared on NRL.com: Titans sign half to cover Elgey loss