Titans ask fans to stay strong
They've lost their coach, finals are out of reach, the top team in the NRL is in town and the weather forecast is for a soggy Sunday but Titans co-captain Greg Bird has urged Gold Coast fans to descend upon Cbus Super Stadium so that the team can earn back their respect.
After the most tumultuous week in the club's eight-year history saw founding fathers Michael Searle and John Cartwright both walk away last week, all attention now turns to a home clash against the Sea Eagles to see how the fans will respond.
With just two wins at home from 10 games this season the Titans have averaged crowds of 13,385 at home but need a big response from the rugby league loving public to demonstrate their long term viability on the Gold Coast.
Four of their sixth lowest-drawing games over the past eight seasons have come in 2014 and while their home average is still greater than those of five NRL teams – including Sunday's opponents Manly Warringah – it is important the fans join the players in a united show of strength.
"I don't think it's really for anyone else to worry about, it's more the fact of us proving to ourselves and us proving to our local fans," Bird when asked whether the Gold Coast needed to prove they can support an NRL team.
"Outside of the Gold Coast, I don't think anyone in the NRL really cares too much what happens on the Gold Coast so we need to band together and give them a reason to support us.
"You can definitely sympathise with the fans when our home form has been quite poor but at the end of the day we're out there working our tail off and trying to do things to turn our form around and make sure that we can not only hold our heads up respect ourselves and what we do but the crowd can respect us as well.
"We've got a perfect opportunity against the competition leaders in Manly. They're always tough and our team's actually got a good history in games against Manly. Our forwards seem to lift against the tough squads and the tough games."
The assignment against Manly is the first for former Cowboys and Raiders mentor Neil Henry in his capacity as interim Titans head coach, a position he is expected to be handed on a full-time basis for the 2015 season and beyond.
Having played in front of the smallest crowd of the season on Monday night, Henry is hopeful that Titans fans will turn out and help them to finish the year on the right note.
"We've got two home games to go and we really need to be determined to get a couple of wins for our home fans. We haven't been good at home all year and we need to try and turn that around and get a couple of wins," Henry said.
"We need to get the crowds there. It was a disappointing crowd there [on Monday night] so we're not the only club that hasn't been attracting fans and certainly the fans are out there and we need to be successful as well.
"Our record at home hasn't been good enough this year and we've got an opportunity to get two wins."
Thursday's team run was the second session without Cartwright at the helm and while senior players are still adjusting to life without their foundation coach, Bird said they are focused on delivering much-improved performances.
"Hopefully they get behind us. It hasn't been easy as a player losing not only our coach but a mate," Bird said of the events of last week.
"Everyone knows 'Carty' is quite close with the playing group so it has been a tough week and then going down to the Roosters in a narrow loss, hopefully the Manly game draws a decent crowd and they can get out and support us through a tough patch."