Cameron Smith's brutal call on Gold Coast Titans after sad Tino Fa'asuamaleaui blow

The Titans' season went from bad to worse following the news about their captain.

League legend Cameron Smith has expressed serious concerns about the struggling Titans in 2024, after predicting it will be a "long year" for Des Hasler's side in the wake of the season-ending injury to captain, Tino Fa'asuamaleaui. Scans this week confirmed the Gold Coast skipper tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during Saturday's demoralising 32-0 loss to Canterbury.

Gold Coast were already struggling when their best player and inspirational leader was on the park, having also been thumped 28-4 by the St George Illawarra Dragons in their opening game of the NRL season. The Titans have yet to taste victory this season but at least against the Dragons, Fa'asuamaleaui ran for 182 metres and made 28 tackles in a standout display for a badly beaten side.

Pictured left to right, NRL great Cameron Smith and Tino Fa'asuamaleaui.
NRL great Cameron Smith thinks the Titans are going to be in serious trouble without their captain and best player Tino Fa'asuamaleaui. Pic: Getty

Hasler's side have been missing the quality of injured duo Jayden Campbell (patella) at fullback and rampaging second-rower David Fifita (torn pectoral) - both of whom are yet to feature this season. Campbell returned to action on Saturday in the Queensland Cup and looks close to making a return, while Fifita is involved in non-contact training but still appears a few weeks away making an NRL return.

Tino Fa'asuamaleaui to leave massive hole at Titans

But it's the loss of Fa'asuamaleaui that looks set to have the biggest impact on the team, with the Maroons and Kangaroos forward undoubtedly one of the best middle forwards in the competition. Fa'asuamaleaui rarely has a poor game and Smith suggests the 24-year-old will leave a hole that Gold Coast will struggle to fill.

“That’s a massive blow for the Gold Coast Titans... it’s their skipper gone,” Smith said on Breakfast with Vossy and Brandy. “If you look at the performances of that entire squad over the last couple of years, he’s been the shining light.” Smith also questioned the depth of the Gold Coast squad to cover the loss of their skipper and suggested that on the basis of their first two games that even the return of Campbell and Fifita will make little difference.

Seen here, Gold Coast Titans skipper Tino Fa'asuamaleaui hobbles off injured against the Bulldogs.
Gold Coast Titans skipper Tino Fa'asuamaleaui has been ruled out of the entire NRL season after tearing an ACL in his right knee. Pic: Getty

“They played the same, if not worse the week before (against the Dragons)... they’re being out-competed and that’s got nothing to do with talent. When you’re being outcompeted and out-enthused, it doesn’t matter how classy your squad is,” Smith said. "One try in two matches and they’ve conceded plenty. I was expecting a huge performance over the weekend considering they came off the bye... looking at their stocks moving forward, it’s going to be a long year for them.”

Titans winless after horror start to the season

The Titans have conceded a whopping 60 points in their first two games and have scored just the solitary try. And that's against two sides in the Dragons and Bulldogs that most critics predict will finish in the bottom half of the competition.

The loss of Fa'asuamaleaui in a defensive unit that is badly leaking points is also a huge concern for Gold Coast. "There is no doubt Tino is a big part of this team and club and will leave a big hole but we are going to have to have a next-man-up mentality and do our best," Titans assistant coach Jim Lenihan told AAP.


Fa'asuamaleaui's season-ending injury is also bad news for Maroons coach Billy Slater, with the hulking middle forward one of the standouts at State of Origin level over the last few years. Tino has featured in 12 consecutive Origin games for the Maroons and signed the richest deal in rugby league history last year when he put pen to paper on a $12 million, 10-year agreement with the Titans.

with AAP