Titans co-captain Kevin Proctor wants his team to adopt a military mindset to defence, believing their mentality towards working together is the reason for their dreadful defensive record.
Proctor is adamant the Titans are “not far off the mark” but they will get a genuine gauge of where they sit in the pecking order when they face unbeaten ladder leaders Penrith at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday to close out Magic Round.
Penrith’s defence is the envy of the NRL. They’ve conceded just 60 points in seven games while the Titans have let in 64 points in their past two games and 140 points in the past month alone.
The most points Penrith have conceded in a game is 16 against Manly a fortnight ago, while they’ve kept Cronulla (48-0), Canterbury (28-0) and North Queensland (24-0) scoreless.
Proctor was a key member of Melbourne when they were the defensive benchmark in the NRL and he believes that is the standard the Titans are working towards reaching.
“(Melbourne) were just like a bunch of army cadets, they know exactly what they’re doing at what times. That is what we’re trying to get to, we should be a well-oiled machine like those guys are,” Proctor said.
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“If someone does go down and someone comes into their spot they know exactly what to do with their job. That is what we want our players to do, know their role and all systems will work. We have the right formula there we just need to do it.
“We’re still a little bit rocky with our defence. We’ve had a few people in and out and just been inconsistent with our defence more than we would like.”
The big problem for the Titans has been the swings from good to diabolical – particularly once they get ahead or look to be in full control.
Over the past three weeks they’ve held match-winning leads but only come away with one victory.
They just held on to beat the Wests Tigers despite conceding three tries in 12 minutes when leading 36-12, a week earlier their 22-0 lead over Brisbane evaporated with four tries in 20 minutes while they led South Sydney 24-10 before the Bunnies ran in three tries in eight minutes after half-time.
Proctor said the recurring theme in all those games has been players veering away from the game plan and trying to do it all themselves rather than work as a team.
“We just need to be a bit more cool and calm-headed in those pressure situations. We seem to go away from what’s working for us at the start of the game and start thinking we can do things by ourselves and trying to fix things by ourselves,” he said.
“When the momentum shifts we need to just keep doing what we’re doing and working together.
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“It’s just the mental lapses all over the park. It’s not just one certain player or one certain position. When you do one thing wrong defensively it normally takes two mistakes to lead to a try or big point-scoring opportunity.
“We’ve been making too many mistakes and we haven’t been backing each other up enough, we’ve been working really hard on that and we need to be on top of our game against Penrith this weekend.”
While Penrith are at near full strength for Sunday’s clash, the Titans are missing their two best players this year in suspended forward David Fifita and injured winger Corey Thompson.
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Fifita rolled the dice but failed to get a downgrade to his high tackle charge at the judiciary so will miss two weeks, with Beau Fermor expected to move from centre to second row and Esan Marsters tipped to get his first start for the club after he sat on the bench for all of last week’s win over the Wests Tigers.
Prop Tino Fa’asuamaleaui was sent home from training on Wednesday as he continued to recover from a stomach virus, but is not in any doubt for the clash with the Panthers.
Fullback AJ Brimson said the Titans remained confident they could threaten the Panthers despite the loss of Fiifta.
“We’re not looking at it as if we’ve got nothing to lose, we obviously think we can beat them,” Brimson said.
“You know David is out, I think Beau Fermor will slot into that back-row position. He has been a handful and has been playing centre which isn’t his No.1 position so it’s a good opportunity for him to show what he can do.”
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