Toopi plays on with Titans

Gold Coast Titans have received a boost on the eve of the finals with experienced former New Zealand Test centre Clinton Toopi and emerging forward Ben Ridge today re-signing with the club.

Toopi, who will line-up in the centres against his former club in tomorrow night’s blockbuster finals opener against the New Zealand Warriors at Skilled Park, has agreed to a new one-year playing contract for season 2011.

The club had offered Toopi the option of continuing to play next season or to take up an off-field role in player education and welfare, specifically working with Polynesian youth, but he has elected to continue his playing career with the club.

Ridge, a 20-year-old backrower who made his NRL debut for the Jetstar Titans in Round 20 this year, has extended his contract with the club until the end of the 2013 season.

Jetstar Titans Managing Director Michael Searle said the re-signing of the pair was a significant coup for the club, with both bringing different qualities to the balance of the team heading into the future.

“Since joining the club in the pre-season, Clinton has been a positive contributor to the team both on and off the field. His presence and experience has been an asset to the team on the paddock while he has also had a significant influence as a role model, particularly with the Polynesian members of the playing squad, off the field,” said Searle.
 
“Ben is another success story of the Titans’ junior pathways system having made the step up from last year’s National Youth Competition (NYC) to be playing NRL this year. He is still only 20 years of age and I’m sure his best football is in front of him.”

Jetstar Titans coach John Cartwright said Toopi and Ridge had both overcome obstacles to be a part of the club’s significant achievement in qualifying in the top-four for a second consecutive season in 2010.

“Clinton came to the club with some injuries but he has trained hard and with the help of our medical staff has been great for us this year. He has also been a great fellow to have around the club,” said Cartwright.

“Ben suffered a bad leg injury in the Under-20s competition last season so the fact he has been able to recover from that and play first grade this year says a lot about the type of player he is.”

Toopi said he would be relocating his family over to Australia from New Zealand in the coming weeks after reviving his NRL career this season with the Jetstar Titans.

“Over the last couple of months things just sort of started falling into place, I got a few opportunities in first grade and my body started holding up. I thought there is light at the end of the tunnel and it ignited the flame again,” said Toopi.

“It’s been a long road, a lot of ups and downs. The Titans have looked after my body and maintained a training regime that suits my body now.

“I’m glad the club gave me time during the season to go home to New Zealand to catch up with the family. They come over in the next couple of weeks so hopefully we’ll be able to start sorting out my wife a job in teaching.”

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