Dally M hero returns to help spark Titans revival
The Titans' first ever recruit - Dally M hero Preston Campbell - is back to help build his beloved Gold Coast into an NRL premiership force.
The Courier-Mail can reveal Campbell, one of the Gold Coast's most revered cult figures, is in negotiations with Titans hierarchy to return in a mentoring role as coach Garth Brennan looks to deliver the club's maiden title.
Fed up with years of mediocrity, the Titans pulled off a major coup last November, securing NRL Immortal and Test coach Mal Meninga to inject a winning edge as the head of club culture and performance.
Now the Titans are turning to the man who represents their heartbeat. Campbell gave the club instant credibility when he became their inaugural signing for their entry to the NRL in 2007.
The pint-sized dynamo was once the No.1 player in the NRL, making his Gold Coast debut in 1998 before their demise forced him to Cronulla, where he famously won the 2001 Dally M Medal with his sizzling speed and footwork.
In recent years, Campbell has stayed in touch with the Titans via ambassadorial work but he will be at the coalface this season, helping mentor the club's emerging stars led by Ash Taylor and AJ Brimson.
The 41-year-old Campbell amassed 103 NRL games for the Titans, playing fullback in their epic charge to the grand-final qualifier in 2010, and is determined to help Brennan haul the club out of the doldrums.
"I'm coming back to the Titans," Campbell said.
"I'm really excited, I love the club dearly and I think I have something to offer.
"There's some great young kids coming through like Ash, AJ, Brian Kelly and Jai Arrow and I have some knowledge I can pass on.
"It's been disappointing to see the club struggle in recent years after the success we had when we first came back into the competition.
"I'm pretty busy with the indigenous work I do, but I'll be back around the club helping in any way I can."
Titans football manager Anthony Laffranchi been in talks with Campbell for the past month to work out how to best use his services.
Campbell is regarded as one of the NRL's most heroic players. Standing 167cm - just two centimetres taller than Broncos great Allan Langer - Campbell's tiny frame survived a remarkable 14 NRL seasons.
He scored 86 tries from 267 top-grade games and was a member of Penrith's premiership-winning team in 2003.
Brennan said Campbell, a proud Aboriginal, would offer invaluable support for the Titans' posse of indigenous players.
"Presto will be involved in some capacity, it's just up to him where he wants to fit in and how much he wants to do," Brennan said.
"Anthony Laffranchi approached me recently and said would you like Preston involved and I said absolutely.
"I'll look for Presto to work with our halves and also our indigenous boys. We have quite a few Aboriginal players here, including Ash, Tyrone Roberts and Ryan James, so having Presto around will lift the place.
"He's a Titans legend. I told him he is always welcome at our club."