Desperate for a win, Gold Coast will keep their spine intact for the first time this season after five-eighth Tyrone Roberts completed Thursday’s captain’s run without issue.
The only winless team through four rounds of the Telstra Premiership hosts a Panthers team on Friday night which enjoyed its own release of pressure with a scrappy 9-8 golden point win over the Wests Tigers last Friday.
Gold Coast players will wear the socks of their junior clubs on Friday night as a way of promotion junior league registration but just as important will be sending kids home happy after a win.
Their chances of doing that will be significantly enhanced if Roberts can cope with the pain of inflammation around his Achilles tendon and partner Ash Taylor in the halves.
The pair reunited for the first time since the 2017 finals in last week’s 26-10 loss to the Warriors but coach Garth Brennan emphasised Roberts would only play if there is no risk at reinjuring the Achilles that forced him off the field 12 minutes into the round-one clash with the Raiders.
Titans v Panthers - Round 5
"I won't play him unless he's 100% ready to go but from all reports there is no further chance of it causing any major damage,” Brennan said.
"It's just a little bit of inflammation. I wouldn't play him if there was any risk of that Achilles going or long-term damage. It's not worth it, especially in round five, and it's worth it to his career.
“It's more a pain factor for Tyrone and if he can put up with the pain and get through it then he should have no dramas. I spoke to him just before and he seemed very positive so we'll see how he gets through training.
"There's no risk there otherwise I wouldn't be playing him. AJ [Brimson] is more than capable of slotting in there if Tyrone doesn't make it but I'm fairly confident, for the first time this year, we'll have our same halves and hooker combination.”
Refusing to use the weekly disruptions to his key playmakers as an excuse for his team’s 0-4 start, Brennan said it will undoubtedly help to rectify the issues they have been having with their execution in attack.
"It certainly contributes to our attack and our failure to score points, that polish and continuity,” said Brennan. The Titans’ 36 points is the lowest total in the NRL.
“Hopefully the more games they can play together they can get their combinations happening – and the boys around them can get their timing off that – we can start executing a little bit better than we have.
“That's it in a nutshell. We've got to execute better. We've got to stay connected, stick to our processes so everyone knows their on the same page.”
However ugly it has to be, Brennan believes that a breakthrough win can be the catalyst for a Titans resurgence and is conscious of not allowing the Panthers to get on a roll of their own.
"It takes the monkey off your back when you get that first win,” said Brennan.
"I know Penrith probably as well as anybody and I know what mentality they'll be coming here with. We've got to make sure we're a little more desperate than they are.
“Penrith's performance last week wasn't perfect but they scrapped and they stuck tight and they ground out that win. Once they get that win it can spark teams to go on a bit of a run."