New faces, new attitude.
That’s what Titans senior coach Craig Hodges has promised as Gold Coast look to bury the turmoil of the past week in a home clash with the runaway Telstra Premiership leaders Melbourne on Sunday.
A week after coach Garth Brennan was sacked, Hodges and co-coach Luke Burt ran their eye over a revamped squad that will see former Knight Sam Stone make his club debut and Leilani Latu make just his seventh appearance for the club 12 months to the day since his last start in the NRL.
Former Storm players Kevin Proctor (virus) and Ryley Jacks (deep bruising) have been cleared to face their former club who have chosen to rest the majority of their State of Origin stars.
Throughout the week there has been a noticeable increase in training intensity during Titans sessions and Hodges says that will be the yardstick for which all players will be measured over the final eight weeks of the season.
“I'm fairly confident you'll see a very hard-working group. You'll certainly see a different mentality about what we're doing over the next eight weeks,” Hodges promised.
"We'll all have a clearer picture in eight weeks' time as to how much it means to everybody in the organisation.
“We've got a couple of key points that we're measuring the players on and those that do it best will get picked. Those that don't will sit on the sideline. I can't make it any simpler than that.
“There have been some changes made. There's change been made with the team, change been made with the structure, change that's been made with the mentality.
"We'd be crazy with what's gone on to not make change and expect to get a different performance.
“There are certainly some parts that we've identified as being key points that needed to be changed.
"We'll get to find out in the heat of battle tomorrow.”
More concerned about what the team can put in place over the next two months than putting his name forward as Brennan’s long-term replacement, Hodges has attempted to pare back the clutter and provide the players with a clear direction of what’s required.
"We've simplified it a hell of a lot. We just want them to get back to the core basics and get back to enjoying footy,” said Hodges, who was on the Broncos coaching staff before joining the Titans.
"It's been a bit of an up and down few weeks but get back to enjoying it and those basic parts we've got to be really hard on.
"We need to run hard, we need to play the ball fast and we need to have good, strong first contact defensively.
"Once you've got a clear plan on what you need to do it gets pretty easy to go and do it.
"It's not necessarily easy to execute but it's easy to know what's required of you.
"We hope that the stuff that's happened over the past week has focused everybody in the club on what needs to be done and we've got an opportunity to go out and do it.”
Despite the absence of Cameron Munster, Christian Welch, Felise Kaufusi, Josh Addo-Carr and Will Chambers from the Storm side Hodges doesn’t expect Melbourne to miss a step.
"In the 15 years or so that Craig Bellamy's been running their club, I don't think they've ever not turned up for a game. I don't think it matters who plays for them,” Hodges said.
"Nobody in our shed is taking them lightly for those reasons.”