How Titans exceeded Henry's expectations
They cared little for the naysayers who said back in February that they would finish the 2016 season in 16th position but Titans coach Neil Henry has admitted that his players have exceeded even his own high expectations.
With 11 wins and a draw against the Sharks the Titans did just enough to snare the eighth and final spot in the Telstra Premiership Finals Series and set up a blockbuster against big brother Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
They are the longest of the outsiders to have qualified for week one of the finals but as they have done all season will set their sights on proving people wrong, including their coach.
"They have in some regards in the grit and determination they've shown at times. It's wonderful that they have exceeded my expectations there," Henry told NRl.com.
"They've done some things that I didn't think they'd do and it just proves that when the willpower is there and they genuinely want to work for each other and not be individuals, it's pretty powerful and you can achieve a fair few things.
"There's no egos in the group, no cliques. We don't have to be each other's best friends but there is a certain purpose about what we're doing.
"There are plenty of guys that will say something if something's not being done and you have to have that honesty where if it is said it is said for a purpose and is there to remind you, encourage you or give you a kick in the backside."
Those "kicks up the backside" began in the very early days of pre-season training where players who were only just getting to know each other were asked to review the leadership qualities of their peers in the harshness of a camp conducted at the Canungra Army barracks west of the Gold Coast.
There are 13 players in the current Titans NRL squad who weren't at the club this time 12 months ago and as well as pushing them to their physical limitations the camp last November was designed to bring them together by delivering some at times brutal honesty.
"The players were actually put into an environment where they were tested but then their peers would rate them. They got individual peer assessments done and that was quite powerful," Henry revealed.
"They did a debrief on it and were told what other people thought of them, how it started in day one and how it evolved by day three into something else.
"Over a three-day period you might have been quiet and shown no leadership as a young guy to day three being comfortable enough to help out and show some leadership.
"They might have been called a bit lazy or a bit interested in themselves and not really a team person to turning into part of a unit that had to all work together to achieve a goal.
"That was the aim of it, to try and break down the individuals and make them part of a smaller unit and then make that unit bigger and then make it bigger again and then by the end of the third day it's all one club, one team.
"It's been a big part of what we're about. It put us under duress but it also gave us a common goal and a common bond."
Those values have been reinforced in a variety of different ways over the course of the season, from a talk by general manager of the Gold Coast Institute of Business Leaders, Christine Walker to undertaking the Resilience Project which centres around having gratitude and empathy.
It has gone some way to creating a culture where comebacks are commonplace and anything is possible and got players believing that they can do far more than simply make up the numbers.