The Titans are under no illusions that facing the Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park on Sunday will be their toughest challenge yet.
The Storm sit on top of the NRL ladder and look all but certain to claim another minor premiership in 2019, and the Titans know they will have to be at their best to take it the star-studded team.
With their loss to the Raiders at home last week, Melbourne will be even more dangerous with something to prove.
Fullback Michael Gordon says Melbourne’s relentless style is why the Storm are regarded as the best team in the competition.
“I’ve played them a number of times, and it’s always a tough game. It’s probably the hardest road trip in rugby league down there,” he said. “We’re going to have to be at our absolute best to compete with the best.
“I know we’re going to have to prepare well, and we’ve got the long turn around so we’ll get plenty of work in this week.
“They don’t give you anything. They give you no cheap points. You’ve got to earn every bit of field position.
“Every try, everything you can get out of Melbourne, you’ve got to earn it, so you have to take it and that’s why they’re so good.”
The Storm have been the subject of constant speculation surrounding their tackling style and wrestling tactics, but Gordon says he hasn’t taken any notice.
“I don’t really focus on what they’re doing. You know it’s never going to be an easy game,” he said. “We’ve been just trying to focus on us lately, and this week will be no different.”
Titans hooker Mitch Rein will go head-to-head with Storm skipper Cameron Smith this week and said the headlines surrounding Melbourne’s on-field wrestling tactics had no impact on the Gold Coast’s preparation.
“Not many teams talk about the stuff that we’ve been hearing about, with these little tactics and the foul play or whatever,” Rein said. “No teams really talk about that. It’s all a part of the game. I think it’s just something for the media to run with but it’s just a part of footy.”
The Titans played the Storm just five weeks ago in Round 18 and came out firing, surprising the visitors with two quick tries to take a 12-0 lead early before Melbourne hit back thanks to a great second half performance from Smith.
Rein says the 400-gamer’s influence on matches makes Smith the best player he has ever seen.
“He’s always in control and always just a couple steps ahead of everyone, he’s just controlling the game and that’s so hard to do,” he said.
“When people figure out how to do something to get the better of him, he has figured out a new way to do the same thing back, and mostly always comes off.
“He’s such an important player in their side and probably the best player I’ve ever seen. But you can’t just focus your energy on him.
“He works off the back of his forwards and they’ve got a really big pack and big outside backs that are fast and powerful. They’ve just got strike over the whole field, so we just have to be ready.”