Titans chasing star Knights forward
THE Titans are ramping up their recruitment drive with the Gold Coast in talks to lure hulking prop Herman Ese'ese from the Knights.
Titans culture boss Mal Meninga has already launched a $5 million pursuit of Brisbane sensation David Fifita and now Gold Coast recruitment chiefs are eyeing off former Bronco Ese'ese.
The former New Zealand Test prop was close to joining Gold Coast last year, only for the Knights to block the move, but formal talks have been revived with a view to Ese'ese becoming a Titan next season.
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The Titans have already secured Storm monster Tino Fa'asuamaleaui for 2021 and are keen to add the power running of the off-contract Ese'ese to bring a dynamic edge to their pack.
Ese'ese is tipped to leave Newcastle at season's end and his manager Simon Mammino confirmed the Titans are in the mix for the bookend's signature
"The Titans are definitely an option for Herman," he said.
"His partner has family in Queensland and he went to school in Brisbane so he is looking to play for the Titans.
"He is related to Tino so that's another attraction to come to the Gold Coast. He would like to play with Tino.
"I am talking to a few clubs and then I am waiting to hear back from Newcastle.
"He has a few options but Herman is looking to come home."
Newcastle's change of heart with Ese'ese stands to cost the 110kg forward a significant sum of money.
The Titans had tabled a $1 million deal over two seasons last year, but the Knights weren't prepared to sign an immediate release. Due to salary-cap restrictions, the Titans have tabled a reduced offer, but Ese'ese remains interested.
The 25-year-old has played 78 first-grade games, including 30 for the Broncos, and could be a handy ally upfront Titans young gun Mo Fotuaika.
"We were close to signing with the Titans for this year but unfortunately the Knights weren't able to release him," Mammino said.
"We are giving Newcastle every opportunity to retain a player they brought down from the Brisbane Broncos.
"The new pace of the game will work wonders for Herman. Bigger forwards need leg speed under the new rules and Herman has that. He has a lot to offer any club with his experience and agility.
"We haven't given thought to Herman to being at the Titans this year. The offer was initially on the table but the Knights won't entertain that. He wants to get the job done this year, go deep into the season this year and hopefully win a grand final at Newcastle under Adam O'Brien."