Interim Gold Coast coach Craig Hodges' fears a losing rut over the final five weeks of the season could prove "career-defining" for Titans players as a club clean-out looms.
The Roosters record 58-6 rout of the last-placed Gold Coast painted the ugliest of scenarios for the battling club, with their sixth-straight loss coming in the same week that Justin Holbrook was named as coach for 2020.
Holbrook's arrival in late October is expected to trigger yet another roster overhaul on the 'Glitter Strip', but Hodges outlined a far more imminent concern as the Titans latest heavy loss sinks in.
Since Garth Brennan's axing the Titans have conceded 130 points in three games, with Hodges blasting a lack of effort he fears could follow his players for the rest of their days unless it is turned around fast.
"There's two ways you go when you're in this type of situation," Hodges said after the 52-point loss, the second biggest since the Gold Coast's return to the NRL in 2007.
"We can either sit down, ring the bell and turn up and deliver that for the next four-to-five weeks or we can decide what we want to be individually, what we want to bring, and do our best effort to try and squeeze that out of them the next four or five weeks.
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"And what they get out of the next few weeks will be what they take through for the rest of their careers.
"If they learn to sit down and quit now, that'll be what they do when they're under stress or if they learn to fight.
"As tough as it is, you can look for excuses or you can get back to hard work and quite simply today our effort wasn't good enough.
"… we didn't try hard enough today, and there's not a worse thing you could say to your football team than that."
Hodges was blunt in his assessment of the 10 tries-to-one rout, which leaves the Gold Coast four points adrift of 15th-placed Canterbury at the bottom of the ladder.
With Holbrook's announcement as incoming coach giving the club certainty and players "knowing exactly who will be watching them", their capitulation to the premiers was particularly disappointing.
"Today was a great opportunity to show them what they can do," Hodges said.
"We definitely showed [Holbrook] something but he wouldn't like what he saw.
"That becomes acceptable for them individually whether they stay here, whether they move on to other places. But that becomes their standard, acceptable for them.
"If that's what they take out of this season, if that's their legacy moving forward from this season, I think that's a terrible tragedy."
Hodges described Ash Taylor's return from a two-month break on personal leave as "rusty", while Michael Gordon's hamstring concern was carried into the game and is not expected to keep him sidelined for an extended period.
"He's rusty Ash, and low on confidence like a lot of people that have time off," Hodges said.
"He'll certainly get better with more games. But he was like the rest of us, we were a little off today, the whole group."