Myles: Step in the right direction
Titans co-captain Nate Myles has lauded the efforts of the 17 who took the field against Manly on Sunday, insisting there needs to be a greater desire to earn your spot in the next phase of the Gold Coast club.
In many ways Sunday's 15-12 defeat at the hands of Manly Warringah mirrored how the Titans have competed for much of 2014, but with one major difference in interim coach Neil Henry at the helm rather than foundation coach John Cartwright.
They competed well, defended stoutly and had enough opportunities to win two games of football but were let down by poor execution, particularly in the opposition 20-metre zone.
Much of that can be attributed to a halves pairing playing just its second game together and certainly if the Manly halves of Daly Cherry-Evans and Kieran Foran were residents of south-east Queensland, the Titans would likely be gearing up for a premiership tilt.
Heading into Sunday's clash halfback Daniel Mortimer, five-eighth Aidan Sezer and centre James Roberts had each played less than 10 NRL games for the Titans this season but despite the lack of cohesion, Myles was impressed with the spirit on display.
"Today was a step in the right direction. Our footy and our attitude was a lot better, definitely in the week just past our training was a lot better," Myles said.
"Something that we have to improve is wanting to be in that 17 and I don't think enough of our players are holding that with both hands and really relishing the opportunity to play first grade.
"I felt that the 17 we had out there today was a step in the right direction. They were positive, everyone trained really well during the week and if our 17 does that every week and has a right crack and does the right things it filters back through our reserves and our under-20s.
"Our 20s put in a great performance tonight (they defeated Manly 62-22) and it's something as a club I think we need to get better on, really striving to be part of that 17 every week."
Dave Taylor was a late withdrawal with a calf complaint while a "95 per cent" Kevin Gordon was overlooked by Henry in favour of Kalifa Faifai Loa, the interim coach with a desire to become the permanent man in charge indicating that reputations would count for little on his watch.
"We missed Dave at his explosive best; when he's doing what he can do, any team would miss him," Henry said.
"But he's also got to have some consistency about other parts of his game. If he's got that complete package all together, he's in your 17 that's for sure but whether he's starting or not, he's still going to be a valuable part of any team.
"We're always quick to judge Dave on what he potentially can do and there are very few players who actually produce that week in, week out, that sort of play that he can produce.
"Hopefully he'll get over this latest injury and still get a game or two in."
The one attacking bright spot for the Titans continues to be the sheer blistering speed of centre James Roberts, who scored a slashing try in the final minute of the first half and looked the man most likely to trouble the Sea Eagles defence.
In total he ran for 162 metres and had two line-breaks and drew praise from both captain and coach for the continued improvement in his game.
"He's a good dude and I thought he took another big step today, I thought he played some good footy today and did pretty well to catch a lot of those long balls in the sun, too," Myles said.
"He's definitely learning and it's exciting for us to have him as a player for sure."
Added Henry: "He's got that raw speed and he's strong so he's a handful. If he's going to try and beat you on the inside or outside with his footwork he's invariably got a fairly quick play-the-ball so that's a real asset to the team.
"His defence is improving, I thought this afternoon was his best defensive effort in that position and he hasn't played a lot in the centres.
"He's only been at the club for half a season so he'll improve with a pre-season."