Titans urged to stand up to Bronco bullies
They saw an opportunity slip through their fingers seven years ago and now Titans legends such as Preston Campbell and Ashley Harrison are urging the current squad to finally assert themselves against the might of the Broncos.
The south-east Queensland derby at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night is more than a chance for the Titans to progress to week two of the finals series, it's an opportunity to give their fans something to be proud of.
To give them the sense that like they did way back in 2007, they can walk out of Suncorp Stadium with their heads held high and without fear of big brother's condescension.
Ashley Harrison's career began with a premiership with the Broncos in his very first season in 2000 but he was very much a Titan when the two teams met in a finals game for the first and only time to date.
It was 2009 and the Titans had finished the season in third position and Brisbane sixth but even though they had hosting rights for their Finals Week 1 clash, there was still a sense that the Titans weren't yet up to Brisbane's lofty standard.
More than 27,000 filled Cbus Super Stadium to capacity and saw a good old-fashioned mugging, Brisbane racing out to a 28-10 lead before a late Dave Taylor try eventually sealed an incredible 40-32 victory.
"All it's been about the whole time has been getting a bit of respect from the public," Harrison tells NRL.com.
"Everyone holds the Broncos in such high regard – and they deserve that – but for the Titans it's just about getting a bit of respect.
"Winning this game on Friday night will definitely have them heading in the right direction.
"Any game against the Broncos you want to play well and you want to beat them, just because they've been good for so long. That's just the way it is and how we thought.
"We had an opportunity to beat our big brother, so to speak. Historically the bigger brother bullies the little brother for a while and usually the little brother ends up a bit tougher.
"They obviously had the wood on us back then but we got them a couple of times too."
The only player to appear in finals games for both the Gold Coast Chargers and Gold Coast Titans, Preston Campbell believes that it is crucial for the identity of rugby league fans on the Gold Coast that the Titans land a major blow in the rivalry on Friday night.
"You have that rivalry and it is a local derby and even when I was back here with the Chargers the Gold Coast was always looked upon as the black sheep of the family, like we weren't wanted," Campbell says.
"The past decade or so Gold Coast have got to the point where they can stand on their own two feet. They're not the little brother anymore – that's how I see it anyway.
"We were that team that weren't thought about all that much. It didn't help when we got kicked out of the comp three times but now we're able to stand on our own two feet and put it to some of the best teams that have been around for a long time.
"The Titans have been the second team to a lot of fans out there for the past 10 years so this is a great opportunity for Gold Coast Titans to win some more fans.
"You have kids that are five, 10, 15 years old, hopefully these kids are growing up to become Titans fans and the only way that's going to happen is if they put the Broncos to the sword."
Like Harrison, Brad Meyers began his career at the Broncos before joining the Titans for their inaugural season in 2007 and says that after some tough seasons are now starting to win back the public's support.
Still residing on the Gold Coast and a regular at Titans fixtures, Meyers believes that the Broncos remain the team all Titans players and fans want to beat more than any other.
"They've always been that team. They've always been that team that everyone strives to beat and they're still that way now," says Meyers, who played 102 games for the Broncos and 75 for the Titans.
"I think they're already starting to get that respect back. To come back after some tough years and have the season that they're having now has been good.
"They've got players who just want to go out there and play footy and be competitive and do it for the full 80 and that's why you're seeing people coming back and watching the games more.
"Just to show all the teams that we're not that pushover team any more.
"We're here and we're going to push you all the way no matter what."