Tough times... Titans coach John Cartwright has two years remaining on his original five-year deal. Credit: Colin Whelan. Copyright: NRL Photos.
Senior Titans players have vowed to adopt the siege mentality that has served other NRL clubs so well over the years in order to not only rescue their season but also save coach John Cartwright from the sack.
Since the Gold Coast board announced on Wednesday that they would be conducting a complete review of the club's operations, speculation has intensified that Cartwright's tenure as foundation coach is no longer safe despite having a further two years to run on his contract.
Titans CEO Graham Annesley reaffirmed earlier statements that the club was not vying for the services of outgoing Knights coach Wayne Bennett as senior players Luke Bailey and Greg Bird both gave their full support to Cartwright retaining his position.
Given the emotion that will surround the Titans' match against Newcastle on Sunday which will serve as the centrepiece of the Rise For Alex Round this weekend, the challenge of bouncing back from a disappointing loss to the Raiders last week seems great.
But rather than splinter into a thousand pieces, Bailey for one believes that it is time for the team that led the competition after six rounds to become a tighter unit than they have previously shown in their short history.
"It makes you stick together. It's us against the rest of the world sort of approach and that's what we need heading into a game like this," Bailey said of the internal review. "It is us against the world down there, it's all a fairytale for a Newcastle win so it's an us-against-the-world attitude and go down there and try and steal two points.
"[The loss to Canberra] was the final kick up the butt that we needed collectively as a team and the only thing we can do is go down to a grand final-like atmosphere down there and bring home two points.
"They're not great stats [qualifying for the finals twice in eight years] and I've wanted to play finals football every year that I've been here and I still think we're capable of doing it this year.
"You can't dwell too much on what's happened in the past, we've just got to worry about winning a few games in a row. We've definitely made it tough on ourselves but I think it's achievable."
Co-captain Greg Bird will miss the opportunity to run out in front of a packed Hunter Stadium on Sunday due to the suspension he incurred from Origin III and insists that those currently in leadership positions at the club are the ones who can lead them out of their current crisis.
"There's pressure on everybody, it's not just 'Carty'. There's pressure on everybody and it's everybody's responsibility to get together and fight our way out of this," Bird said.
"We've potentially got the team to do it because we have won games at the start of the season with a very similar playing roster. It's not just clicking the fingers or picking one thing we can improve on, it's going to take a combined effort from everyone to get in and fix our performances.
"Carty has been the heart and soul of this squad for a very long time now and I know all the players are going to stick by him no matter what.
"[The fans] are entitled to their opinion and like everyone else they want an answer for why we're not winning football games. I wish I could give it to them but the best people to get us out of this are here right now and that's John and Neil (Henry, assistant coach), myself, Nate (Myles) and the senior players in this squad.
"We've got to get together and get this squad back into a winning frame of mind and some confidence and I know we can make a run into the semis."
While the spotlight has been pointed directly at Cartwright in the wake of the review's announcement, Annesley highlighted the need to address all areas of the business in order to ensure the Titans have a prosperous future on the Gold Coast.
"The club is OK [financially]. Like all rugby league clubs we could be in a lot better position," Annesley said. "It's a long process, you can't wave a magic wand over things that have been created over a long period of time.
"It's common knowledge that this club is fighting its way back from some pretty difficult times and that's going to be an ongoing process and that's why the board are motivated to try and make the right decisions for the future to ensure the sustainability of this club in the long term.
"This is not a John Cartwright witch-hunt; this is about all aspects of our business. We've got a whole range of issues that we need to confront.
"On-field performance is one of them but that ebbs and flows, that's part of sport. We've got other issues around our revenue, stadium access; we've got a whole range of issues that the board wants to be armed with the right information before they make any decisions."