Dreadlocked giant Jamal Idris knocked back a massive offer from Newcastle and the opportunity to be coached by Wayne Bennett to sign a five-year deal with the Gold Coast on Tuesday.
On the same day 61-year-old super coach Bennett signed a four-year contract with Nathan Tinkler’s Knights, the game’s most exciting 20-year-old pledged his loyalty to the Titans, who are desperately in need of a next generation cult figure for young fans to follow.
The most exciting centre prospect to emerge since a young Greg Inglis made his NRL debut for Melbourne in 2005, Idris has rugby league buzzing about his untapped potential.
Titans chief executive Michael Searle predicted the “earth would move” when a fully fit Idris and Inglis clashed next season.
“I think it will be something legends are written about when those two are going at each other,” Searle told AAP.
Idris admitted he “teared up a bit” when he told teammates of his decision during Tuesday morning’s weight session.
He said the chance to involve himself in some community work with someone like legend Preston Campbell appealed to him.
“For me, personally, I’m big with the indigenous side of things and the community and I think that’s bigger than anything up there for me,” he said in Sydney.
“I want to help the community no matter where it is.”
Idris said helping the community meant more to him than money, which is why he turned down several other NRL offers.
Idris looks set to quickly establish himself as a star of both the Origin and Test arena.
“He’s certainly at a level I haven’t seen an outside back at for a long, long time,” said Searle.
“He’s also got the most powerful fend I’ve seen as far as physical strength for a 20-year-old goes.
“He’s a big man, very powerful on the paddock, explosive.
“He’s still raw boned as the coach (John Cartwright) said but it was his demeanour off the paddock when he was up here that we were most impressed with and his desire to work within the community.”
The Titans were not in the same ball park compared to what billionaire Tinkler pitched at Idris.
While he made his decision before Bennett announced his move to Newcastle just hours earlier, he would have had a good idea Bennett was going to be their coach.
Campbell, an Indigenous All Stars teammate, played a big part in Indris’ decision.
“Having Preston and Ryan James convince him we honour our word as a club helped a lot and in the end, I think he felt comfortable with it,” said Searle.
Searle clinched the deal after having had dinner and breakfast with Idris and his family on the Gold Coast recently.
He was surprised the deal came together so quickly.
“I was expecting it to be a longer process,” he said.
“He obviously made his decision and wanted to do the right thing by the Bulldogs by telling them early and we respect that.”
Coach John Cartwright said Idris would play centre but with his size would probably end up in the forwards.
“He’s best suited at centre. Once you go to the forwards it’s a long way back, but he will probably end up there,” said Cartwright.