Competition - NRL Premiership Round - Round 17 Teams – NZ Warriors v Gold Coast Titans Date – 2nd of July 2016 Venue – Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland, NZ Photographer – Shane Wenzlick

Keep your eyes on the prize, Paasi warns

When Hayne fever subsides there is one inescapable truth facing the Aquis Titans: total focus on performance is the only thing that matters as they continue their march towards the NRL finals.

Agnatius Paasi has urged his teammates not to be distracted as the side prepares for battle against his former club, and top eight threat, the Warriors at Cbus Super Stadium on Sunday.

Gold Coast has been at the centre of the rugby league world this week, starting with Monday’s nail biting draw with the in-form Sharks.

Holding the NRL’s benchmark side to account, and nearly breaking their 15-match winning streak, demanded the competition’s attention, and then the hype went into overdrive when the Titans pulled off a recruiting coup by signing Jarryd Hayne.

But now is the time to re-focus and consolidate, according to Paasi, who understands the threat posed by a Warriors outfit in front of what should be a bumper home crowd at Robina.

“It will be a special occasion for a lot of reasons – Jarryd’s first game, a big crowd,” he said.

“The crowd will be a massive factor and there will be a lot of Warriors fans there too.

“But it’s important we calm the nerves before this game. We can’t afford to let our guard down.”

Paasi said playing against his former club would be emotional but he is determined to put that to one side as the seventh-placed Titans look to secure a finals berth.

Over the closing five weeks Gold Coast face three top eight hunters – Warriors, Tigers and Penrith – and a final-round clash with the Cowboys in Townsville that could determine their finals fate.

“The next month is crucial,” said Paasi, one of the side’s big yard gainers against the Sharks.

“The Warriors are pushing for top eight and so are we, maybe even top six.

“They showed how dangerous they were in golden point last week so it will be up to us, particularly the middle forwards, to work hard on the inside.”

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