Knights v Titans: Final Word
As the Titans seek to keep their finals hopes alive and the Knights desperately look for a way to break a 15-game losing streak, coaches Neil Henry and Nathan Brown give their thoughts on where the game will be won and lost.
Knights coach Nathan Brown on…
Jeremy Smith's return from injury: "It will be great for him to finish off his career with a couple of home games, and with a week off training it’s given his body some sort of chance to freshen up.
"There would have been plenty of lesser characters that would have not been able to play games that Jeremy has played in this year. He's given the kids a good education on what a body can do under difficult circumstances.
"He's been helping our attack through the middle of the field a lot lately. He's had a fair bit of pass through the middle of the field and helped create a fair bit of second phase so I thought from an attacking point of view we probably missed him most the other day."
Threat posed by Jarryd Hayne: "Obviously it's good to have Jarryd Hayne back in our game and he provides a lot of great publicity and he's an entertaining player but Gold Coast aren't where they are because of anything to do with Jarryd Hayne. Gold Coast are where they are because of Greg Bird, Shillington, McQueen, Douglas, Zeb Taia and all these good, hard, seasoned forwards that have played a lot of NRL football over a lot of years. They've had a lot of players contribute and now Jarryd Hayne is the icing on the cake. We would expect him to have some impact on the game but from our point of view we don't want it to be too big an impact and hopefully bring a few extra fans to the table."
On expectations of players: "Every game has meaning because every time you run onto the field you advertise yourself as a player and as a club. The fans have really stuck solid by the group this year on the back of so many losses in a row. That's what probably made me a little bit disappointed the other day more than anything. There's always plenty to play for. The points aren't going to do anything for us but the way we finish the year can only help build into next year."
Titans coach Neil Henry on…
Discipline concerns around Ryan James: "He knows he needs to have a bit more discipline about what he does. If it's an offside penalty, that's discipline about being behind the line; if it's a hand on ball penalty, it's discipline in the tackle. If you're going in to whack someone and you clip them high that's unfortunate and you don't want to curb any aggression but what we want to do is take the leg pulls, hand on ball, the offside penalties out of the equation and then there has to be some smart decisions about putting pressure on kickers too."
Dangers of complacency: "There's always that danger. They've been competing and playing with plenty of enthusiasm and if we give them opportunities that confidence is going to grow. They'd be thinking they're a realistic chance to get us and we need to make sure that we don't give them those opportunities. It was patchy last week against the Wests Tigers and we couldn't put them away at 18-10."
Positive energy around the team:" It's good to be in the hunt and in the mix this time of the year and to play some decent footy. The new acquisitions add new players and guys who are regular first graders so there's a good feeling in the camp and we just need to take the opportunity."
Veteran Jeremy Smith returns at lock for the Knights with crowd favourite Nathan Ross also a welcome inclusion on the wing after missing last week's loss to the Panthers with a hamstring injury.
The Titans will welcome back Tyrone Roberts to partner Jarryd Hayne in the halves, the former Knight returning to the ground where he played the majority of his 97 games across five seasons for Newcastle.
With Ryan James free to play after having his careless high tackle charge downgraded on Wednesday night at the judiciary Ryan Simpkins keeps his spot on the bench and Leivaha Pulu will play a second game in Intrust Super Cup.
Sportsbet has received nine times the money on Gold Coast in comparison to the Knights in the head-to-head market with the Titans steady at their starting price of $1.20.
Gold Coast are the best backed side of the entire round with 87 per cent of the money wagered on the game going the way of the Titans.
But the punters don't expect it to be a cakewalk with slightly more money on Titans to win 1-12 than there is at the 13-plus margin.
Hayne mania continues unabated with one-third of all money taken on the first try-scorer market on Jarryd Hayne to score his first try as a Titan with Hayne three times more popular than the next best backed player, Nene Macdonald.