Titans on the precipice of Groundhog Day
The Gold Coast Titans are either facing a new dawn or Groundhog Day.
Whether the Titans' season under new coach Garth Brennan is to be a turning point in the club's recent history or a repeat of more of the same underachievement is yet to be determined, but what they dished up last week against the St George Illawarra Dragons will need to be a one-off.
Sunday night's showdown with the Brisbane Broncos will provide an insight into whether the home truths Brennan has spoken to his men this week have been listened to.
Sure, they were in the contest for 30 minutes in last week's 54-8 thrashing by the Dragons last week, but the naivety in defence in the next 50 minutes and the lack of punch in the middle of the field was sub-standard.
Last year's poor performers – the Wests Tigers, Newcastle Knights and New Zealand Warriors in particular – have taken clear strides forward in 2018 and the Titans will be left behind unless they can show that they too are on the improve.
The 17-man outfit Brennan will field against the Broncos is virtually his best team available, although promising half AJ Brimson and outside back Tyronne Roberts-Davis must be close to getting a gig if the side continues to lose.
Broncos coach Wayne Bennett said at his Saturday press conference that he expected the Titans to be "trying to get some respect back" after their thumping last week.
"We had that happen to us a couple of weeks ago so I am pretty confident in the mood they will turn up here… wanting to play well and at Suncorp, so it won't be hard for them to be motivated," Bennett said.
"They are always a danger."
Bennett was being generous there because the Titans have not always been a danger to the Broncos with the 54-0 thrashing they received in round 22 last year one example.
They have not won against the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium since the club's first match in its history in 2007 but the Titans can draw on last year's 24-22 loss at Suncorp in round seven where they came out and played with desire and flair.
There is a fascinating sub-plot to Sunday's clash.
Bennett sacked Brennan when he was at Newcastle and the Titans coach explained to NRL.com this week that it was both the worst and best thing that could have happened to him.
Brennan, rated highly as a mentor by Phil Gould and Matthew Johns, outlined how the move from Newcstle to Penrith made him a better coach and took him out of his comfort zone
Bennett would not say why he sacked Brennan, but confirmed the duo got on well and that he was "pleased" Brennan had gone on to become an NRL head coach.
"It's the making of anyone going outside your comfort zone, It doesn't matter if you are a coach or who you are, when you get out of your comfort zone it is going to challenge you," Bennett said.
Brennan certainly is out of his comfort zone after three rounds of the Telstra Premiership and his challenge to get the Titans firing on Sunday night is immense.
He boldly stated before the season started that the Titans would be a tough team to beat in 2018. They weren't last week.
Even if they lose, supporters will be at least looking for a sign that there are better days ahead.
The Titans, due to the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, don't play at their home base of Robina until round eight against the Cronulla Sharks on April 28.
Their designated home game at Toowoomba last week was notable for the sea of red and white in the crowd and lack of Gold Coast support.
That support at CBUS Stadium is vital financially for the battling Titans, and getting the fickle Gold Coast sporting public to attend games during the winter will depend largely on what Brennan's men dish up in the coming month on the road.