Coach Justin Holbrook spoke to the media this morning ahead of the Friday night showdown with the New Zealand Warriors at Cbus Super Stadium. Here are the five big issues Holbrook touched on in the countdown to kick-off.
1. Contract discussions are no distraction for Titans
“If he joins our club, great. If he doesn’t, he doesn’t,” Holbrook said of the Titans being linked to David Fifita. “There is no point worrying too much about it. Dave is a real good young guy, and he will make his own decision.
“It is a big story in the game, and I understand that and I understand you want to ask a lot of questions about it.
“Not (a distraction for the players) at all. They’re not involved in it at all are they? They just get on with training. So it doesn’t disrupt them at all, it doesn’t take any of their time up. It is nothing to do with our playing group.”
2. Putting together an 80-minute performance
“That is what we have to work out as a team<” Holbrook said. “We have fought well and hard in the second halves of a few games. All of a sudden last week we put ourselves in a really good position at halftime and then fell away.
“That is a big learning curve for our group.
“We went in as the better side at halftime, and created a lot of line breaks, and we thought we were going to start the second half the same way – but then made a lot of errors.
“It is about being able to start again in the second half and get on with it. We have been in different situations the last few weeks, and like I said, we didn’t handle it well last week.
“It is all about learning from the experiences with the group. Then when we are in that same position, making sure we are better than what we did.”
3. What the Titans are expecting from the Warriors
“They are playing differently to the Warriors sides we have always known over the years,” Holbrook said. “They are playing a really hard-to-beat type of footy now, and much more conservative than what they have been known for in the past.
“They showed last week (against Brisbane) that they don’t beat themselves anymore, the Warriors.
“It was a huge win for them. To not have Roger (Tuivasa-Sheck), and to lose Kodi Nikorima in the first couple of minutes and beat a desperate Brisbane side shows that they will use that a lot – the character that they obviously have got within the group.
“With the situation they are in, they all pulled together and got away with a good win last week. That is keeping us really wary of what they are capable of.”
4. The Titans’ massive injury toll
“I don’t feel hard done by, but it is not ideal, that is for sure,” Holbrook said. “To have some strike centres and your captain (out) and your star fullback that you haven’t been able to get on the pitch yet – it is not ideal, but it is part of the game.
“Every club has got it. For me, it is better having a normal week’s preparation this week.
“Last week was unfortunately really tough with all those guys going down on different occasions and different days.
“They’re all different (circumstances). It is not one particular area. Jonus Pearson was a gym (injury), Phil Sami was a ridiculous dive he tried, Kevin Proctor had a contact injury, Brian Kelly was an injury from the week before that was worse than what we thought.
“Dale Copley was an injury during a game, so you can’t help that, and so was Young Tonumaipea.
“There are all different reasons, not just one part of our program that has caused all the injuries. It is a very brutal sport, rugby league.”
5. The debut of young winger Treymain Spry
“For Treymain Spry to get his debut is exciting,” Holbrook said. “As a coach you want to give guys opportunities, and he is a really talented young player coming through.
“You always want your best players on the field. But when you don’t, it’s exciting as a coach to give other guys opportunities.
“In the couple of scrimmage games that we have played against other clubs, he has done really well.
“Last week against the Sharks, he scored three tries. He has always been a good young talent coming through and we obviously need a specialist outside back out there.
“We have a couple of makeshift centres tomorrow night with a couple of backrowers playing centre, so I need a winger who can play wing. Treymain can do that, so it is good timing for him.”