The Gold Coast Titans have been dealt a cruel blow with a major sponsor parting ways with the club.
National construction and event hire giant TFH is ready to tear up its six-figure deal with the club, according to the Courier Mail, after star forward Ryan James’ awkward welcome to country gaffe at the NRL Grand Final.
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James, an Indigenous player, was invited to deliver the speech pre-game and all was going well until he forgot his words.
“As a game we stand together, side-by-side … I’m lost,” James said.
The prop received plenty of support from the crowd with cheers, while players from both Canberra and the Sydney Roosters could be seen smiling.
But the Titans’ major sponsor saw it differently, labelling the blunder “embarrassing” and “offensive”.
“The embarrassing performance of Ryan James in his speech last weekend was offensive and weighed heavily on this decision,” TFH director Brett Thomas reportedly wrote in a letter to the club.
The company and NRL side have been linked since 2012 but their partnership has been ended with the sponsor also blaming poor on-field efforts.
News of the breakdown however saw fans slam the company’s decision to throw James under the boss over his momentary brain fade.
“If this is the real reason this is a disgrace,” Fox Sports’ Dan Ginnane tweeted.
“Really harsh, this. All that happened was we laughed because it wasn’t us, and then we all got on with our lives. And now this? This guy is a terrific ambassador for our game. Lovely fellah too,” Inside Sport magazine editor James Smith tweeted.
Nine news sports reporter Michael Atkinson labelled the decision “weak” while AAP reporter Scott Bailey wrote “the only embarrassment in all of this is the sponsor”.