Having made his NRL debut in Round 17 this season Tom Kingston is close to signing a contract extension with the Titans. Credit: Robb Cox. Copyright: NRL Photos
The performance of Gold Coast last Sunday was indicative of a team that had clocked off for the year but interim coach Neil Henry insists there is still much to play for as contract negotiations with a number of players are placed on hold.
With veterans Mark Minichiello and Ashley Harrison leaving the club at the end of the year and youngster Cody Nelson believed to be heading to another NRL club, the Titans have looked to shore up their back-row stocks with Penrith's Matt Robinson one of two back-rowers on the club's shopping list.
Titans feeder club Burleigh Bears are also believed to be in discussions with Papua New Guinea international Jason Chan who after six years in the English Super League with Celtic Crusaders, Huddersfield and Hull KR is returning to Australia for family reasons.
With a board meeting scheduled for Friday to discuss the appointment of a new head coach for 2015 and beyond, interim coach Neil Henry conceded that contract negotiations with a number of players will remain unresolved until a coach is named.
"It is [difficult]. We've got a few question marks over a couple of players and until the head coach is appointed things are on hold. Hopefully that will be resolved sooner rather than later," said Henry, who is still the favourite to be named just the second head coach in Titans' history.
"Cody's off contract and I know that he's got a couple of offers from other places as well so we have to look at that. Tommy Kingston has been offered a contract, we still need to sort through that as well and to sign off on that so there's a couple of young back-rowers that have been in the system for a few years that we need to make some decisions on."
Nate Myles, Dave Taylor, Ashley Harrison, Luke Douglas, Ryan James, Matt Srama and Ben Ridge are all unavailable for Sunday's tough assignment against the Warriors in Auckland but David Mead is in line for a return from a hamstring injury.
With forward stocks so light on, Mead could be brought back in the centres with Brad Takairangi moving into the pack and although finals are now out of the picture, Henry said it is a good opportunity for fringe first-graders to push for greater recognition.
"Tommy Kingston has had a couple of games so it's a good chance for him to get some experience, Aidan Sezer's only a few games back from injury with Daniel Mortimer [in the halves] as well," Henry said.
"Anthony Don and Kalifa [Faifai Loa] haven't been our regular wingers all year with Kevvie (Kevin Gordon) out and 'Meady' being out too so they're getting a bit more game-time so there's a lot to look forward to with some of the guys but we need to get over there with the mindset that we're going to compete.
"The boys were very disappointed in their own effort and energy for the game and the Manly game was a tough game and took it out of us but still the attitude wasn't there to compete and you could see that early in the game.
"We didn't have the line speed and we certainly didn't have the mentality of holding onto the ball with a few unforced errors that gave possession to the Dragons. We need to be better than that regardless of the troops we've got out, we need to turn up and have a crack."
Gold Coast vice-captain William Zillman insisted that there is still plenty of motivation to perform well while conceding that it didn't transfer to the field against the Dragons.
"Even though you're not playing for finals at the end of the day you're still playing for a professional rugby league team and we want to do the best not only for our mates out there with us but for the fans and for the club," Zillman said.
"We spoke during the week about finishing the season well but it's probably a lot easier said than done when deep down you don't necessarily feel like you're playing for a finals berth.
"We've had a restructure at the club and we're going to have a new coach next year so there's still plenty to play for."