SCOTT PRINCE'S move to Brisbane was so unexpected that coach Anthony Griffin has admitted the Broncos halves would be ''uncomfortable'' about the former Test halfback joining the club, while the Titans don't have a contingency plan to replace him.
When Gold Coast officials met Prince and his financial adviser Steve Robinson on October 8, they had thought their foundation captain might opt to retire at the end of next season after being told they were not going to take up an option on his services for 2014.
Instead, Prince decided to test the waters in Super League, and after he was offered a three-year deal worth more than $1 million by Hull FC, the Titans felt they could not turn down his request for an immediate release.
What shocked them - and most of the league world - was that Prince rejected the deal with Hull on Tuesday night and signed a two-year contract with the Broncos.
Even Griffin said he needed some convincing before agreeing to sign Prince, who will turn 33 next season and is expected to celebrate his 300th first-grade game.
''I probably chased him away the first time I spoke to him,'' Griffin said. ''He could have earned a bucket load more money in England for a longer period of time, and I actually put that to him.
''I didn't want him coming here if he was coming here to retire, and I wouldn't have agreed to it if I had that feeling. But over a period of a couple of days he came back and said he wanted the opportunity so we followed up on it.
''There's obviously a couple of negatives with it, some people will feel a bit uncomfortable, but I don't think that's a bad thing at the moment.''
If Prince's contract wasn't being subsidised by a severance payout from the Titans or Griffin had to cut the likes of Peter Wallace, Corey Norman or Ben Hunt to accommodate the premiership-winning halfback, the deal wouldn't have happened.
''I couldn't have made it more black and white that he starts from number 25 [in the playing list],'' Griffin said. ''He's coming here under no guarantees. Scott will have to be better than the guys we have got here to earn a spot. But under the terms that we are bringing him here it makes us stronger.''
The departure of Prince leaves Gold Coast coach John Cartwright with a far different dilemma, and the Titans are hoping that now there is an opening next season a halfback at another club might seek an opportunity. However, Wests Tigers under-20s premiership captain Jacob Miller, who will undergo groin surgery this week, has ruled out a move after the appointment of Mick Potter as coach, while Raiders officials say Sam Williams is contracted for next season and won't be released.
If no one emerges, Cartwright has Jordan Rankin, Beau Henry and Toyota Cup halfback Matthew Beddow - a former schoolboys star - to call on.
The Titans also have 2011 Australian Schoolboys halfback Kane Elgey under contract but he is unlikely to be ready for the rigours of the NRL for another season.
''The meeting that I had with Scott outlined the fact that he was a big part of our plans for 2013 because, as you can see, we haven't gone out and sourced another halfback," Cartwright said. ''[But] to commit to anyone at the end of 2012 for 2014 when he's 33-34 years old is a big ask. I stand by that. At this stage, it was too early to commit for 2014. But most players in that position if they feel they can keep playing are going to try to keep playing."