NRL 2022: Kieran Foran reveals why he is leaving Manly for Gold Coast Titans

Kieran Foran admits he was always on borrowed time in his second coming at Manly - and opens up on his move to the Titans, his injury history and what comes next.

Titans recruit Kieran Foran insists he is not a spent force in the NRL and says he holds no bitterness towards Manly in the wake of his shattering salary cap-enforced exit from the Sea Eagles.

Foran will join the Gold Coast next season on a two-year, $800,000 deal and revealed he fought back tears as he informed Manly teammates of his impending Titans defection just moments after their 36-22 defeat of the Tigers on Saturday night.

Manly coach Des Hasler fought valiantly to retain the off-contract Foran and it is understood teammates are seething at Sea Eagles bosses for failing to ensure the 2011 premiership winner finished his career at Brookvale.

But in a wide-ranging interview with News Corp, veteran five-eighth Foran admits he was always on borrowed time at Manly and is determined to prove his critics wrong by producing an injury-free tenure at the Titans.

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Kieran Foran will depart Manly for a second time at the end of this season. Picture: Getty
Kieran Foran will depart Manly for a second time at the end of this season. Picture: Getty

SALARY-CAP SNUB

Foran is on around $270,000 this season at the Sea Eagles. When the Titans entered the picture, Hasler crunched the salary-cap numbers and launched an eleventh-hour bid to keep Foran at Brookvale, but he was trumped by Gold Coast’s $400,000-a-season offer.

The former New Zealand Test star says he holds no grudges towards Manly management, accepting it is time for him to go to make way for a new wave of talent headlined by Josh Schuster.

“I spoke to all the boys in the sheds after the (Tigers) game and I got pretty emotional telling them I was going,” said Foran, who returned to Manly last year after a horror stint at the Bulldogs.

“Manly have been brilliant. I honestly can’t say a bad word about them.

“I’m realistic about the situation. When I took this Manly deal, I did it knowing it would be two years for me and that’s it.

“Manly have so much talent coming through and just the way the salary cap is and the players they have, I always knew it was likely to be a two-year thing.

“In an ideal world, it would have been nice to stay on, but I had to be open to opportunities that are out there.

“Manly are in a good position to move on from me. They have Josh Schuster who is an enormous talent. He is so gifted and he is ready to step up.”

Foran will hand the keys to Manly’s attack over to Josh Schuster next year. Picture: Getty
Foran will hand the keys to Manly’s attack over to Josh Schuster next year. Picture: Getty

THE COACH

Hasler gave Foran his Manly top-grade debut in 2009 and 13 years later, punctuated by the duo having stints at other clubs, they have reunited at Brookvale.

As a 21-year-old, Foran celebrated his maiden premiership ring with Hasler as his coach in 2011. When Foran hit rock bottom with some off-field dramas at Parramatta in 2016, he always maintained contact with ‘Dessie’, who threw him a lifeline last year after his injury hell at Belmore.

“Me and Des are so close,” he said.

“I love him like a father.

“He has been so loyal to me throughout my career and it’s fair to say he has believed in me from the day I debuted for the Sea Eagles. He has never lost faith in me and I would like to think I came back to the club and gave them value for money and played my heart out for him and the Manly fans.

“I will forever be grateful to Des. He believed in me when others didn’t and I am a bloke that repays loyalty. If someone believes I can offer something, I will repay the faith.”

A teenage Kieran Foran (L) has a long history with coach Des Hasler.
A teenage Kieran Foran (L) has a long history with coach Des Hasler.

GOLD COAST RESCUE

Foran had interest from two other NRL rivals, but he opted for the Titans, who believe the 31-year-old’s guile and experience can stabilise their struggling spine and provide mentoring for rookie halfback Toby Sexton.

A veteran of 247 NRL games and 22 Tests for the Kiwis, Foran is relishing the prospect of linking with blockbusting back-rower David Fifita and making the Titans a finals force.

“When it became clear I was leaving Manly, I rang manager and said I would like to keep playing, so let’s see what else is out there,” he said.

“Deep down, I had my eye on the Gold Coast. I thought the Titans would be a good fit for me. Once Chris Orr (his manager) reached out to them, we got it done quickly, it was the easiest deal I’ve ever done.

“The Titans have a good young side but they probably need some guidance and I have been around the game a long time. Toby Sexton is a good young talent and I think I can form a good combination with him and hopefully play finals footy with the Titans.

“I’m also looking forward to playing with a guy like David Fifita. He is a guy who wins matches and I think a player like myself, I can link well with David and I would love to have him running off me.

“He is such a big, explosive body with footwork and speed and if you can put him in the right positions on the field, he can really do some damage.”

Working with rampaging second-rower David Fifita appeals to Foran. Picture: Getty
Working with rampaging second-rower David Fifita appeals to Foran. Picture: Getty

THE INJURIES

Foran suffered a wretched run at Canterbury, playing just 40 games in three seasons due to a series of injuries that almost forced his retirement. Foran turns 32 in July, but scoffed at suggestions he is in danger of breaking down at the Titans.

“I am confident I am not a risk for the Titans,” said Foran, who played 25 games for Manly last year.

“I can understand the pessimists out there saying I’ve had my fair share of injuries and why would the Titans sign me, but I have shown in the past 18 months the hard work I have done has paid off for my body.

“I have stood up week to week for 80 minutes and my body is truly ready for the physicality of the game today.

“I’m proud of the way I have soldiered on. My career has been dead and buried four or five times and I just kept picking myself up and proving I can keep doing the job.

“I would have played for free in the NRL because I knew deep down my body had more to give.

Kieran Foran has had a torrid time with injuries in the past decade. Picture: NRL Photos
Kieran Foran has had a torrid time with injuries in the past decade. Picture: NRL Photos

“That period forced me to look into my training methods and I definitely feel I’m a stronger player and person for what I went through. I have no doubt I will stay on the park for the Titans with the way I look after myself.

“When my Titans deal ends, I will be 34, but it comes down to form doesn’t it? If I am playing good footy and the Titans are winning games, there is no reason there has to be an end point. But I understand it’s a results-driven business and that will determine whether I continue on with the Titans or whether this next deal will be it.

“It’s on me to perform.”

ONE LAST DANCE

Foran outlined his one final ambition at Manly: to depart with another premiership ring - 11 years after tasting title success with Hasler in their grand-final defeat of the Warriors.

“I want another premiership before I go, spot on,” he said.

“Manly means so much to me and I want to throw everything into the next six months and go after another premiership with Manly.

“It would be the ultimate dream to win another grand final. I know how hard it is to win a premiership, but I know we have the squad to be a finals team and to challenge for the title, I have no doubt in my mind.”

DONE DEAL: KIERAN FORAN’S TITANIC CONTRACT REVEALED

- By Michael Carayannis and Phil Rothfield

Kieran Foran’s second coming at Manly is over with the Sea Eagles star to join the Titans on a two year $800,000 deal from next season.

An emotional Foran put aside his impending switch to help lead his side to a 36-22 win against the Tigers. Foran laid on a try in front of a capacity crowd as his time as a Sea Eagle comes to an end.

“It will probably be my last contract,” Foran said. “It was a big call. I’ve been getting through the week and wanted to get the game over and done with.

Kieran Foran will be a Titan in 2023. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Kieran Foran will be a Titan in 2023. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

“I don’t want to say too much about it just yet. There will be a time and place to talk about that sort of stuff. I have been extremely grateful to get the opportunity to come back here.

“The club which holds a special place in my heart. I have great mates here, blokes I’ve played footy with for a long time and a coach who has believed in me since I made my debut.”

Despite desperately wanting to remain at the Sea Eagles, the salary cap has squeezed the Kiwi international out of the club for a second time. Manly were only going to be able to offer the 31-year-old a cut-price one year contract.

Instead he has secured what could be his last contract in the NRL with the Titans to pounce. Foran will offer some much needed guidance to an inexperienced Gold Coast spine.

He played his 247th match for the Sea Eagles against the Tigers on Saturday afternoon.

In comparison the Titans spine named to play the Roosters on Saturday night had just 203 matches between AJ Brimson, Will Smith, Toby Sexton and Erin Clark. Injured boom fullback Jayden Campbell has played just 10 games.

Foran will take on a mentor role for the young Titans side and look to form a partnership with Sexton.

Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler said he was “a real pro”.

Outside his two stints at Manly though Foran has had limited success. He did not match his high price tag during ill-fated seasons at Parramatta and Canterbury while his 17 games for the Warriors helped resurrect his career.

Manly threw him a lifeline on a two year deal worth about $500,000 – making him one of the poorer paid five-eighths in the competition.

Despite helping lead the Sea Eagles to a top four finish last year, the club’s tight cap position and the likely position switch of Josh Schuster from the backrow into the halves made it difficult for the club and Foran to come to an arrangement.

Originally published as NRL 2022: Kieran Foran reveals why he is leaving Manly for Gold Coast Titans