Titans sponsor apologises for James gaffe

TFH have recommitted as a sponsor of the Gold Coast Titans despite criticism of captain Ryan James.
TFH have recommitted as a sponsor of the Gold Coast Titans despite criticism of captain Ryan James.

The boss of a major Gold Coast sponsor has apologised to captain Ryan James after the NRL favourite was controversially implicated in the company's attempt to sever ties with the club.

Construction and event hire company TFH felt the wrath of the rugby league community when James' bungled Welcome to Country grand final speech was among the reasons listed for prematurely ending their contract.

The letter also reportedly listed the Titans' poor on-field performances as a reason for the split, after they claimed the wooden spoon in 2019, while adding that James' failure to finish his address was "embarrassing", "offensive", and had "weighed heavily" on their decision.

On Friday TFH director Brett Thomas issued an apology to James while reaffirming the company's commitment to the club for the 2020 season.

Gold Coast's head of performance and culture Mal Meninga led the chorus of disgust, labelling James' implication as a "weak excuse".

Thomas backtracked on Friday while confirming the company, which began as sponsors in 2013, would remain on the Titans jersey next season.

"I sincerely apologise to Ryan James, and his family, for any hurt my comments caused. It was a stupid thing to say, and it's not how I think or who I am," he said.

"During sponsorship negotiations with the Titans, I overreacted and unfairly brought Ryan into a situation that had nothing to do with him.

"I've known Ryan for seven years and have a great relationship with him. I've spoken with Ryan over the past few days to check on his welfare and to personally apologise to him.

"Ryan is a man of tremendous character, and I'm grateful he accepted my apology."

Titans chief executive Steve Mitchell said "direct, honest and positive two-way conversations" had helped resolve the situation while Meninga applauded Thomas's humility.

"Like Ryan did on grand final night, Brett made a mistake, and just like with Ryan, people are prepared to forgive and forget if that mistake is owned with sincerity and authenticity," Meninga said.

Australian Associated Press