Coach's nerve brings dividends
Even as the losses mounted mid-season Titans coach Neil Henry held his nerve.
Where others may have lashed out the cash to bring someone – anyone! – to a club left reeling from the defection of Dally M Centre of the Year James Roberts to big brother Brisbane up the road, Henry waited and waited.
The team most pundits predicted would finish at the foot of the ladder were forced to blood rookies and players thrown a career lifeline to keep their season ticking along yet still Henry resisted the temptation to flood the market with the cash reserves he had within his salary cap.
Like a poker player waiting to go all-in, Henry's patience paid off over the space of two weeks in late May and his reward was starring roles by both Nathan Peats and Konrad Hurrell in Saturday night's win over the Eels at Cbus Super Stadium.
No club was in a better position to pounce when it became evident that the Eels needed to shed players to get back under the salary cap for 2016 and the arrival of Peats has coincided with five wins in the eight games in which he has played.
With Nathan Friend joining Daniel Mortimer and Matt Srama as Titans' No.9s on the injured list the influence of Peats over the next six weeks will be integral in the club breaking its six-year hiatus from finals football.
"He was real quiet the first week and now he's out there giving orders," said Titans prop Ryan James.
"He's really good to have around the ruck because he definitely gets in your ear and makes you do those hard yards.
"He's still learning most of the plays and he's been one of those leaders that have stepped into that role.
"He definitely gets in there and has a go and tries to whack people when he can and uses his body to his best advantage.
"He's playing extremely good footy for us and when we can get full use of the way he plays we'll be better after that."
Fellow prop Luke Douglas has also noticed the growing influence that Peats has on the team each week and how Henry's ability to wait until midway through the season has paid off.
"People have sprung up and he's had the opportunity to jag a few quality players which has been good," Douglas said.
"Koni is building and you saw tonight that he's really good at taking opportunities and getting those sets off to a good start.
"There's nothing better as a forward when you've been doing a bit of defence seeing the likes of him and Nene taking on the line and getting us a roll on. It makes our life a lot easier.
"'Peatsy' is not afraid to say the truth. If we're not doing something right in attack or defence he's quick to speak up.
"He's pretty vocal. I thought he'd be a bit quieter but straight away he's come into the team and he's really getting the boys in order and not afraid to say something if someone is doing something wrong, which is good."
Saturday evening's 34-14 win represented Hurrell's first win as a Titan at Cbus Super Stadium with the former Warrior scoring the opening try of the game and thrilling the crowd of 15,000 with his customary charges into the defence.
Tipped to become a real crowd favourite, Hurrell told NRL.com that over the past fortnight he has really come to terms with his new life on the Gold Coast following his mid-season switch from the Warriors.
"Obviously I was a bit excited to play my first home game. This is home now and I didn't want to play bad in my first home game," Hurrell said.
"After my second game last week I know that I'm here with the boys. I'm still trying to earn my respect from the boys and if we can get a couple more wins we can get into the finals.
"If the team is winning here you feel good and you feel like you made the right choice to come here and to start playing NRL and to be happy again.
"I'm a part of the Titans family now and the members and fans have welcomed me very well and I'm pretty humbled that I've got such good support from the first week of coming here."
This story first appeared on nrl.com.au