Titans to miss duo for Dragons clash - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Titans to miss duo for Dragons clash

By Wayne Heming 20/07/2010 04:50:18 PM Comments (0)

Despite losing representative stars Greg Bird and Ashley Harrison the Gold Coast will be keen to welcome home globetrotting managing director Michael Searle with an upset win over the Dragons on Friday night.

Searle returns from his overseas "business" venture on Wednesday, in time to attend what shapes as a season-defining game for his club, looking down the barrel of a seventh loss in nine matches at WIN Jubilee Stadium.

While the club rejects inferences his absence has had any impact on the team's on-field performances, Searle's extended trip overseas has raised some eyebrows and questions given it coincided in part with the club's worrying slide down the NRL ladder.

It's also the time when clubs and CEO's are actively out in the player market place.

"Michael has been taking a well-earned break overseas as well as attending to business matters with his management company ISA," said Titans general manager of Operations and Media, Ian Buchanan.

"He left the ship in good hands and has been in daily contact with his senior management team via phone, email and text messages.

"Any suggestion his absence is untimely is misconceived.

"The coaching staff, headed by John Cartwright, is responsible for the day-to-day running of the football team and that hasn't changed just because Michael has been away."

Buchanan said Searle was the best person to decide if his presence was required in the daily running of a club he and chairman Paul Broughton had spent the past 11 years establishing and growing into a business from scratch.

It's been a tough year for Searle with the club he founded in 2007 involved in a number of off-field battles, most involving builder Alex Simpson (Simcorp) who took the Titans to court over their $30 million Centre of Excellence headquarters at Robina.

Titans skipper Scott Prince was subjected to allegations he received a free house and land package as part of his deal, claims investigated and dismissed by the NRL's salary cap auditor Ian Schubert.

The club was also recently reported to have a number of outstanding debts, including owing the Queensland Rugby League money.

And rumours some Titans players had not been paid were also scotched by player agents who confirmed their clients had been getting their salaries.

Before heading overseas last month, Searle dismissed reports the fledgling NRL club had financial issues that could threaten their future in the NRL.

He left the country confident those issues had been put to bed.

Through it all, Searle maintained the Titans were and are financially sound.

"I would think that any club that has a building valued at $30 million with external loans of $15 million as part of its asset base is in a good position," Searle said last month.

Injuries to big guns Bird (hamstring) and Harrison (knee) could extend the pain and frustration a little longer but a welcome-home win for Searle against the Dragons could turn things around.

Cartwright has named former Bronco Steve Michaels, Clinton Toopi, youngster Shannon Walker and Ben Ridge in a new-look 18-man squad for Friday night's clash.

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