Brimson rise could spell early exit
MICHAEL Gordon is fighting to save his career at the Titans with the veteran fullback in danger of permanently losing his No. 1 jumper to Gold Coast wonder boy Alexander Brimson.
The 19-year-old Brimson underlined his precocious talent on Friday night, scoring two solo tries to spearhead the Titans' gutsy 42-34 comeback defeat of the Sea Eagles at Brookvale.
In the process, Brimson gave coach Garth Brennan a welcome selection headache as he turned up the heat on Gordon, whose dislocated wrist a fortnight ago has opened the door for the exciting teenager.
The 34-year-old Gordon has been one of the Titans' most consistent players this season, playing 20 games at fullback, and he is contracted for another 12 months at the Gold Coast.
But Brennan views Brimson, who made his NRL debut in May at five-eighth, as a fullback and intends to ramp up his development in that position over summer ahead of the 2019 season.
That leaves goal-kicking journeyman Gordon on shaky ground next season in what shapes as his final season in the NRL.
Brennan says Gordon can play wing or centre, but with Anthony Don and Phillip Sami firing on the flanks and Penrith recruit Tyrone Peachey set to settle in the three-quarters next year, there are no guarantees for the veteran custodian.
"The one thing about 'Flash' (Gordon) is that he has some versatility," Brennan said.
"Michael Gordon has been one of our best players this year, he's Mr Reliable, but I guess one door closes and another one opens.
"It's a nice headache to have, that's where we have to be as a club. We have lacked that over the last 12-18 months, we've lacked depth. Last year they got hit with an injury toll and you have to have depth in your squad to compete and play semi-final football.
"AJ is a special kid. I've stopped being surprised by what he dishes up. He is a competitor and that's what you want in your football team."
Brimson was a revelation in the backfield against the Sea Eagles.
On the stroke of half-time he sliced through to score a crucial try to get the Titans back in the contest at 22-10.
After the break, Manly capitulated under a five-try Titans blitz that included Brimson grubber kicking ahead in the 63rd minute to finish off the Sea Eagles.
It was a performance that convinced Brennan that the Queensland under-20s young gun has a huge future in the Titans' No. 1 jumper.
"Going forward, AJ's future will be as a fullback," he said.
"The only thing that concerned me throwing him in so early was understanding defensive structures and getting his numbering right.
"My plan is to give him a good pre-season training at fullback and working with 'Flash' and getting confident in the defensive structures and numbering up in defence.
"There's no issues with his attack, we've seen that, but fullback is such an art these days defensively."
Asked if Gordon will return this year, Brennan said: "Probably unlikely, I don't want to rush him. I won't risk Flash. It gives AJ a chance at the moment to prepare him for next year."