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Papenhuyzen or not, focus remains the same says Lenihan

With all eyes on whether Ryan Papenhuyzen will make his long-awaited NRL return in Saturday's clash between the Storm and the Titans, it's a scenario Jim Lenihan hasn't spent too much time on.

That's because even without their electrifying back who has missed over 400 days of footy after shattering his kneecap mid-last season, the competition heavyweights still remain a top four team and have a very serviceable fullback in Nick Meaney who has been ably filling the duties in the No. 1 jersey in the fan favourite's absence.

With Papenhuyzen promoted to the 17 on Friday after being named earlier this week in the reserves, the Titans coach knows they'll likely inject the 25-year-old somewhere in the game, but it's something he doesn't need to worry about given the danger of the opposition's current back five.

"I think there's no doubt Melbourne will be looking to try and put him into the game somewhere... whether he starts or comes off the bench I'm not really sure, but that's something they've got to worry about," Lenihan said.

"For us, regardless of whether he plays or not, we've still got to be on the ball whether it's Meaney or Papenhuyzen returning the ball, and and they've got a big back five to get them forward out of yardage. 

"It's really important no matter who sits out the back there that we do a big job on them."

Taking confidence from the Gold Coast's Round 3 victory against the Storm, the visitors will be hoping to emulate that performance again with the hope of causing an upset, aiming to break a 3,429 day hoodoo, having not beaten Melbourne at AAMI Park since Round 5, 2014.

"I think that [result] just proved to everyone that if we're on and were controlling our defence really well, our attack is generally good enough to put some points on the board," Lenihan said.

"We've just got to try and limit what they put on the board in their attack and I think we're right into it.

"Yeah, we played them earlier in the year but a lot of water has gone under the bridge since then, but I'm sure both sides are going out there this weekend to perform.

"The Storm are certainly going into the week with a big emphasis at the back end of the year with their semi finals, so it's really important that because they'll put in a good performance, we've got to shape up to it."

The side's efforts in Saturday afternoon's clash will also go a long way into setting the platform for the 2024 pre-season under Des Hasler, with Lenihan wanting to see an extra emphasis on his side's defensive efforts, especially one-percenters.

"We've just got to keep working on our D," he said.

"I think it's just something that whatever we put in this year is a bit of a stepping stone into the pre-season into next year's season.

"Also, there's a lot of invisible effort in rugby league and sometimes there's stuff that people aren't watching on TV but we certainly notice as coaches, so we've just got to try and pick that up."

Acknowledgement of Country

Gold Coast Titans proudly acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are situated, the Kombumerri families of the Yugambeh Language Region. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging, and recognise their continuing connections to the lands, waters and their extended communities throughout South East Queensland.