New Titans coach Des Hasler believes he has the nucleus of the team to bring a maiden premiership to the Gold Coast and sees himself as ‘part of the plan’ when it came to building long-term success at the club.
Welcomed officially to his role and unveiled as coach at a sponsor announcement for the club; the signs of Hasler’s impending arrival have been present even before he made his physical presence felt, with the Titans building a dojo at his request at their home base of Parkwood to assist their training.
With their pre-season officially kicking off on Monday, Hasler will have to wrestle with many of the same concerns that challenged past coaches including Justin Holbrook and Jim Lenihan (who remains an assistant), with improving the team’s consistency with regards to fade-outs at the back-end of games at the top of the list for the two-time premiership winning mentor.
“It's always an exciting time of year because you've done nothing wrong, you’re at 100 percent, so that’s why I am smiling,” Hasler joked to assembled media and guests.
“But coming off last year – it gets pretty cliché now – but you'll often hear the word window and window just means experience and how often (players) have been exposed to first grade.
“This side comes into that period where they've got that experience and … there is a really good expectation around the individuals of this side; they're a relatively young side, but at the same time, they've got three or four seasons of experience under the belt.
“I'll be pretty brutal about it … the NRL is about consistency, it's about consistency of performance.”
Hasler said the club only had to take inspiration from their Queensland derby rivals to see how quickly fortunes could turn once small changes were made to improve overall results.
“You've only got to look at one of the grand finalists from the last game; where they were a couple of years ago and where they are now,” Hasler said of the Broncos.
“So it all turns; it turns on a coin almost. You've only got to look at the Newcastle Knights and the way their season they went (as well); Kalyn Ponga was retiring, they were in the bottom six after Round 11; so that's what that window is and it's a great opportunity to seize it.
“(For us), it's around performing capability-wise and playing that consistency of games across the season.
“To put it simply, it's about raising the expectations and raising the capabilities … (and with) experience, now that they've played a number of seasons, (that experience) should start to kick in, that's how you gain that consistency.”
Two players who will be key to shifting the squad's mindset will be captain Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, who is in Hamilton preparing to play in the Pacific Championships final with the Kangaroos and veteran five-eighth Kieran Foran, who will face off against him with the Kiwis.
Foran started his career at Manly in 2009 and having won the 2011 NRL title with him, Hasler was keen to reunite with his star half.
“The type of player Kieran is, you can understand if you are in Madge (Michael) Maguire’s shoes at the moment, why he reached out to Kieran (to play for New Zealand); Kieran's not a regular nine week-to-week; obviously, they had players out, but the way he's been playing and the consistency he's played over there has been outstanding,” Hasler said.
“A player like Kieran and players that play at that level particularly, they bring experience, they bring influence and they're the outstanding qualities and you can only gain by having the longevity that Kieran has had in the game.”
Other questions Hasler has to find answers for are who will be the best fit to pair with Foran in the halves, with incumbent Tanah Boyd missing the final rounds with injury, with youngster Tom Weaver stepping in to fill the void with aplomb.
Other selection headaches loom in the form of finding his best forward rotation when all players are fully fit with the arrival of grand finalist Keenan Palasia from the Broncos, and how to slot Jayden Campbell and AJ Brimson into the starting side with both players coveting the fullback spot; with the outstanding Cup form of Keano Kini – who won player of the match honours in a losing grand final side – throwing another option into the mix.
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After a number of seasons of disappointment, his own arrival brings pressure and expectation of a return to finals football, with Hasler admitting he would like to be the coach that helped the side progress further than the preliminary finals.
"That's the plan and that's what success (looks like),” Hasler said. “That's what's in front of us; so very much, that's what we desire and that's what we will chase.
“I won't go to make any bold predictions, but let's just say I'm very optimistic.
“I’m not the man that can make the actual club successful, let's be honest, I'm part of the plan, and that's what it is, it's being part of a system that needs to generate success.
“I've always been a results-based coach … I want to make sure that we're bringing a standard of performance and we want to win.”