The Titans, who are trying to build something special under new coach Justin Holbrook, have secured the services of Brisbane’s David Fifita, Melbourne’s Tino Fa’asuamaleaui and Newcastle’s Herman Ese’ese from next season. Gold Coast sources confirmed Mbye has been discussed as a potential five-eighth or hooker, with Nathan Peats off contract at the end of the year.
With pressure mounting on coach Michael Maguire to end the club’s nine-year finals drought, cracks are beginning to appear at the Tigers as question marks surface over his coaching methods and relationship with the players.
Maguire wants to instil a harder edge to a team he believes has become accustomed to mediocrity, and is trying to clear the decks and create salary-cap space to bring in players capable of handling his philosophy. Maguire even tried to lighten the mood at training this week after senior players told him the fun had gone out of their preparation.
The other benefit of releasing Mbye from the final two years of his deal is it provides the Tigers with money at the ready in case Brandon Smith looks to leave the Storm as a result of Harry Grant returning in the off-season.
“I don’t know how it would make me feel,” Smith told Inside the NRL last month when asked of the possibility of Grant returning to the Storm as their long term No.9.
“It’s obviously a tough decision that I’d have to make with the Melbourne Storm. We’ll have to wait for that challenge to come. Obviously it’s a really tough question for me to answer but we’ll have to tackle that challenge when it comes.
“I definitely want to be a No.9. It’s very tough for me to answer that at the moment. I’m just trying to focus on this year and don’t want to step on anyone’s toes. I definitely want to play No.9. Whatever happens happens.”
Maguire made Mbye captain when he joined the club in 2019, but has since added Benji Marshall as co-captain. Mbye joined the Tigers from the Bulldogs midway through 2018 and has been used in multiple positions, but hasn’t managed to land a permanent spot due to his versatility.
Mbye, who has three young children, is from Queensland and still has family in Noosa, making the move even more attractive should it eventuate in the coming weeks.
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Michael Chammas is a sports reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald