Titans coach Garth Brennan has challenged his squad to shed the mediocrity of the past and find a killer instinct before round one after letting slip an 18-0 lead in their trial loss to the Broncos on Saturday night.
Two tries to Kevin Proctor and a third to Brenko Lee took the home side to an 18-0 lead but Broncos half Kodi Nikorima inspired a second-half comeback with four unanswered tries.
Titans winger Jesse Arthars grabbed his side’s fourth in the final minute of the 25-22 defeat.
Raiders recruit Shannon Boyd was effective in his first 23-minute stint as a Titan and Tyrone Peachey switched from centre to lock late in the first half to highlight his value to the team.
Jai Arrow and Ash Taylor were also strong in their first appearances for 2019.
When the Titans and Broncos last met Brisbane dished out a 34-0 hiding but Brennan said the club can no longer accept close enough being good enough, even in a pre-season trial.
“It’s a little bit of the Titans of old in that we got comfortable and stopped doing what got us into that position in the first place,” said Brennan.
“In years gone by, the Titans would have come off thinking that was great, four tries each, we’ve competed well but we want to win. Whether it’s a comp game, a trial match or a game of marbles, we’ve got to get that mentality that we want to win.
“I’m disappointed that we couldn’t go on with it.
“We’ve got to start getting that steely edge about us, it’s as simple as that.
“Certainly there were some really good signs from what we dished up in that first half but it’s that mental toughness that we’ve got to get better at.”
Maroons prop Jarrod Wallace was a member of the Brisbane team that defeated the Titans 44-28 in the 2016 finals series and said that the side’s mental fragility cost them a number of victories last season.
“We started that first half really well and then just lost it in the second half and there were too many games last year when we did that,” Wallace told NRL.com.
“That’s what Garth’s talking about, close enough isn’t good enough.
“We’re letting the pressure off and getting comfortable and throwing balls that we shouldn’t throw, missing one-on-one tackles and things like that.
“We’ll make sure that in two weeks’ time when we’re playing Canberra we don’t let that go.”
Having come through the two trials injury-free, Brennan will have almost a complete squad to choose from prior to round one.
Captain Ryan James is expected to be fit in time after suffering a knee injury a month ago, Brennan’s biggest headache settling on the 17 players to face the Raiders.
The introduction of AJ Brimson late in the first half at fullback saw a shuffle of Michael Gordon to the wing, Brenko Lee to the centres, Brian Kelly shift from right to left centre and Peachey into the lock forward position.
Peachey’s versatility gives Brennan a decision to make in the make-up of his bench, a decision he will continue to ponder over the coming two weeks.
“I’m not sure. There are a few things I’ve have to look at when we go back and look at the video,” Brennan said when asked whether there would be similar such shuffles once the Telstra Premiership kicks off.
“It helps having a player like Tyrone Peachey in your team. You can throw him in the middle, throw him in the halves, throw him in the centres.
“He’s ideal to have in your side and you don’t necessarily need to have that utility on your bench when you’ve got someone like Tyrone who can adapt fairly quickly.
“The more he gets used to playing with those guys and they can get to know what he does, I think that can help the team out as well.”
Peachey’s ability to play a number of positions could open the door for Bryce Cartwright to play his way into the 17 for round one.
Effective in defence and showing far greater discretion with his ball-playing, Cartwright hardly put a foot wrong in an 80-minute display against the Broncos that will give Brennan another option to consider.