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Analysis: Surpring figures reveal how Titans spine compares to NRL rivals

Campbell has not been sighted in the NRL since succumbing to a rib cartilage injury in his side’s round three second-half capitulation against Canberra.SCROLL DOWN FOR BREAKDOWN TABLE OF EACH SPINES OUTPUTSince then, a last minute win over Wests Tigers has been their only cause for celebration. Wallace himself has been called back into the Titans side, having made just four appearances off the bench this season. He will now line up in the starting pack for the Magic Round clash with the Dragons on Saturday, and backed the club’s under fire spine to rise to the occasion. The Gold Coast have copped plenty of criticism throughout their five-game losing run, with the men tasked as the team’s chief playmakers called out for an inability to challenge their rivals across 80 minutes. However Wallace said Campbell’s injury had thrown all their pre-season plans into disarray, having worked on finetuning his combination with halves AJ Brimson and Toby Sexton since veteran Jamal Fogarty’s exit. He said now that the trio were back in their intended positions a return of the Titans instinctive attacking play was on the cards. “Having JC back, for AJ and Toby after doing a whole pre-season together, I think that’s going to be fantastic,” Wallace said. “They’ve got the confidence together, I think after having a full pre-season that a so important and then having that broken up after JC got injured was hard. But I think we’ll find our spine will be completely different having all three back together.MORE GOLD COAST SPORT Tiger talisman relishing new role in Labrador’s flag pushTest stars battle, recruit to lead: Every RLCG Round 6 game analysis‘Jump on the bus’: Warning issued for Gold Coast A-League bid“I just think our attack has been very slow for us this year. Usually our attack is our main strength and we’ve really gone away from it. “We’ve gone back to a team of one-up football, taking tackles and setting lines and that’s not us. We’re young, we’re energetic, and we play off the cuff footy. “We haven’t seen that from us this year.” COMMENT: HOW DO THE TITANS FIRST CHOICE 1, 6 AND 7 STACK UP? Throughout the Titans slide down the NRL ladder, coach Justin Holbrook has defended his spine given their inability to play together as a unit. Brimson was sidelined with a calf concern for round one, and less than two games into his return Campbell went down. The abscence of Fogarty has stripped the Gold Coast of a composed game manager to ease the burden on youngsters Sexton and Brimson, however the output of Holbrook’s original quartet has given merit to his defence. “I think the hard thing is what we trained pre-season – AJ gets ruled out going into round one, JC (Jayden Campbell) gets an injury halfway through game three. Our seven, six and one after eight games have played one and a half games together,” Holbrook said after his side’s loss to Penrith two weeks ago.“I think that’s obviously the area we have to get right because our middles are trying so hard, our outside backs were brilliant again.“It’s those key positions, we need them to be playing better collectively and we have to because we’re in a bad spot.”So just how crucial is that continuity when it comes to the halves ability to reap the rewards for their side? For context, the current ladder leaders in the Melbourne Storm have fielded a juggernaut combination of Ryan Papenhauyzen, Cameron Munster and Jahrome Hughes eight out of nine games this year. In that time they have produced 24 try assists and 21 linebreak assists. The attacking linchpins of the Parramatta Eels in Clint Gutherson, Dylan Brown and Mitchell Moses have played all nine games this season, linking up with ease outside of Brown’s brief stint in the centres. Between them they have combined for 24 try assists and 13 linebreak assists, and are the only side to beat the top two in Melbourne and Penrith. While the reality is the Titans need more out of their halves to match it with the competition heavyweights, maintaining a stable partnership throughout those playmaking positions is a must. Furthermore, the output of the halves goes beyond pure numbers, with the halfback in particular tasked with closing out tight contests and getting his side on the front foot with their kicking game to provide a platform for the forwards. Barring injury, the Campbell-Brimson-Sexton combination needs to be stuck to for the rest of the campaign if they are to find the attacking flare Wallace touched on. RANKING NRL HALVES AND FULLBACK COMBINATIONS AFTER NINE ROUNDSThe below breakdown showcases how the way a spine interacts goes beyond individual statistics. It is how they link up as a unit. Take Cowboys breakout star Tom Dearden as an example. The 21-year-old has cast aside a turmultuos introduction to the NRL in what has by far been his finest season to date. In the opening four games of the campaign, when he played alongside a more potent ball running fullback in Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Dearden had seven try assists and six linebreak assists to his credit. Since Drinkwater’s inclusion at the back, the five-eighth has registered jsut one linebreak assists and no try contributions, however his form has not wavered. Frequently he has been the man to provide Drinkwater with his own attacking chances, with the former Melbourne Storm custodian creditted for nine try assists and nine linebreak assists in that period. It goes to show that a spine is often only as good as the players they are joined by, and their success is not solely determined by personal numbers. While they have barely had two games together, the Titans trio fo Campbell, Sexton and Brimson actually fare strongly when on the field at the same time. Only the Storm, Sharks, Cowboys and Broncos contingents combine for my try and linebreak assists than the Gold Coast. If finals were decided by that figure, Penrith would miss the cut. It goes to show that while there is a huge onus on the playmakers to steer the attack and control the flow of a contest, it takes more than three men clicking to orchestrate a premiership charge. All statistics courtesy of Fox Sports Lab. TEAM AND SPINE (1, 6, 7)LADDER POSITIONGAMES PLAYEDTRY ASSISTS (TOTAL)LINEBREAK ASSISTS (TOTAL)TRY ASSISTS (AVG)LINEBREAK ASSISTS (AVG)TOTAL TRY AND LINEBREAK ASSISTS A GAMEStormR Papenhuyzen C Munster J Hughes1824 21 3 2.63 5.63 (4th)PanthersD EdwardsJ LuaiN Cleary2614 102.331.674 (= 9th)Cowboys*S DrinkwaterT DeardenC Townsend3516133.2 2.65.8 (2nd)SharksW KennedyM MoylanN Hynes49183523.895.89 (1st)EelsC GuthersonD BrownM Moses5924 132.67 1.444.11 (8th)RoostersJ TedescoS Walker L Keary6919152.111.673.78 (12th)Sea EaglesT TrbojevicK ForanD Cherry-Evans759101.823.8 (11th)Broncos** T MartinT GambleA Reynolds837102.343.345.68 (3rd)RabbitohsL MitchellC WalkerL Ilias941092.5 2.254.75 (= 6th)WarriorsR WalshC Harris-Tavita S Johnson104671.51.753.25 (13th)Dragons***M MbyeJ BirdB Hunt1146101.52.54 (= 9th)Raiders****C Nicoll-Klokstad J Wighton B Schneider125450.811.8 (15th)TigersD LaurieL BrooksJ Hastings1341092.5 2.254.75 (= 6th)TitansJ CampbellA BrimsonT Sexton142552.5 2.55 (5th)Bulldogs*****M DuftyM BurtonK Flanagan155671.21.42.6 (14th)KnightsK PongaJ CliffordA Clune165130.20.60.8 (16th)* Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow’s injury opened the door for Drinkwater to reclaim the jersey ** Tesi Niu and Albert Kelly’s long-term injuries, and Martin’s miracle comeback, changed the Broncos spine*** This is one tough to judge. Youngster Tyrell Sloan began the season at fullback to plenty of excitement, however he has since been axed by Anthony Griffin from round three onwards in favour of Moses Mbye. At the same time, fellow rookie Talatau Amone was dropped to the bench and not reinstated at five-eighth until the round eight win over Wests Tigers. In his place Bird took the number six jumper. We’ve gone with the spine that has played the most together, despite Bird moving back to edge forward for the Magic Round clash. **** Jamal Fogarty was set to play at halfback prior to his preseason injury***** The Bulldogs are seemingly yet to land on their ideal spine, with Jake Averillo and Brandon Wakeham also used throughout 2022 in tandem with Burton. ‘Back to himself’: Campbell’s stunning claim to NRL comeback— May 1, 2022Jayden Campbell is back, and ready to answer a Gold Coast Titans SOS. As the attack of the NRL outfit struggled to make a dent in their rivals defence, Campbell shone in the Queensland Cup in a performance that showed no signs of the injury which has hindered the fullback’s campaign. Fresh off his return from a rib cartilage injury, the 22-year-old turned in an emphatic display for Tweed Seagulls in their gutsy 38-34 defeat to Wynnum-Manly. MORE GOLD COAST SPORT ‘That’s very much Jaylan’: Young fullback’s traits rival NRL’s greatest Team Analysis: 15 new faces in Gold Coast Vikings side Is the Gold Coast ready for an A-League comeback?Campbell’s 80 minutes on Saturday yielded a try, 219 running metres, two linebreaks and 11 tackle busts in just his second game since being sidelined in the Glitter Strip’s round three clash with Canberra. His combination with fellow Titans contracted youngster Paul Turner also sparked plenty in attack, with the pair linking up frequently on the right edge to put winger Scott Galeano over for a double. Gold Coast coach Justin Holbrook has said he would not call Campbell back into the NRL side until his confidence and game fitness had spiked. Despite being available for the club’s clash with Penrith, AJ Brimson shifted to the back. However with the team now in a fight to salvage their season, Tweed coach Ben Woolf believed the young custodian was playing with the same freedom that won him the club’s number one jersey in the first place. And backed Campbell to have the tools to make an impact should he earn an NRL call up. “He was back to himself, last week he was probably a little bit off and not in the game as much,” Woolf said. “But he was back to his normal self. From my perspective he was back in good form and similar to what he was last year when he got his call up. “We got a little bit more time with Paul and JC on that right edge. They could build a combination, I know they train together (at Titans) but Paul was in a new position and bringing JC back in it didn’t click as well (last week against Townsville). “I don’t think it will hurt him building his confidence at the moment, whether that takes weeks or a month that’s up to the Titans, but he’s very talented and playing good footy.”While the Titans shocked the Penrith Panthers with a 4-0 halftime lead on Friday night, their attacking linchpins in Brimson, Toby Sexton, Will Smith and Erin Clark were unable to orchestrate any further scoreboard pressure. Now that they have slipped to a 2-6 start the season, Campbell’s comeback could be accelerated before their campaign ends without a shot being fired. However Holbrook was quick to defend his playmaking quartet after his side’s eventual 18-4 defeat. Given Brimson failed to take the field in round one, and Campbell was injured in round three, the coach said his ideal maestros had been unable to find any consistency together. Nevertheless, he said whoever assumed those jerseys needed to step up before their season slips away before it can truly kick off. “I think the hard thing is what we trained pre-season – AJ gets ruled out going into round one, JC (Jayden Campbell) gets an injury halfway through game three. Our seven, six and one after eight games have played one and a half games together,” Holbrook said. “I think that’s obviously the area we have to get right because our middles are trying so hard, our outside backs were brilliant again. “It’s those key positions, we need them to be playing better collectively and we have to because we’re in a bad spot.” Titans utility reveals where his future lies As Titans coach Justin Holbrook swung the axe on his misfiring Gold Coast side, utility Tanah Boyd has revealed where his long-term future with the club lay. While he came up through the ranks as a halfback, Boyd confirmed his transition to hooker was complete ahead of just his second NRL game of the season. MORE GOLD COAST SPORT Rookie radar: Breaking down the young guns inspiring ‘changing of the guard’ RLGC Breakdown: ‘Deep Gordon’s’ historic return, Bunt’s punts win it in dogfightGCDRU Round 4 wrap: vietnam trip behind end of Knights reign A cheek fracture sustained in round one sidelined the 21-year-old for four weeks, but he announced his comeback for Tweed in the Queensland Cup coming off the bench in a 40 minute stint out of dummy-half. Boyd’s return has coincided with a dismal Titans showing against North Queensland, with Holbrook responding by axing Jamayne Isaako at fullback for AJ Brimson, with Will Smith line up at five-eighth. Erin Clark will keep his number nine jumper for Friday’s clash against Penrith, with Boyd to share the ruck duties from the interchange. That role, Boyd said, was where his greatest chance at cementing a spot in the Gold Coast 17 would come from. And he said he intended to use the opportunity to make a statement as the club seek to pull themselves out of the doldrums and salvage their flailing campaign. “I played hooker (for Tweed) and that’s what I’ll be doing here,” Boyd said. “I’m loving it to be honest, making the move in pre-season and doing the full pre-season there it’s been good. I’m loving it to be honest, making the move in pre-season and doing the full pre-season there it’s been good. I’ve enjoyed it and am constantly getting better and better. “Me and Clarky get along really well; he’s a fiery bugger and been playing so good. He’s been one of our best I think, he always takes the sting out of the game and I’m just going to try bring the energy and effort. “I felt good the day after (the injury). It’s a weird one, they don’t hurt too much so I was ready to go. I’ve just been getting flogged for the last four weeks, but it’s good to be back and I can’t wait.”Friday night’s challenge against the defending champions will also mark the return of Herman Ese’ese, who will come off the bench after the Titans forwards were bullied by their Cowboy counterparts. Ese’ese has not featured in the NRL since he ironically took on the Panthers in Magic Round last year. Following a high tackle on Brian To’o, he was suspended with a Grade 3 Careless High Tackle. After an intensive pre-season in which he shed weight in a bid to improve his selection chances, the prop has been a regular sight among the Gold Coast reserves while yet to take the field. Given the 27-year-old has been required to travel with the NRL side as Covid-19 cover, he has only been able to play two games for the Burleigh Bears in the Queensland Cup thus far. While Ese’ese admitted the lack of chances to prove his worth gave him itchy feet, his focus had quickly shifted to making an impression against the Panthers. “It’s pretty frustrating but it’s the new rules now. You wish you could get some game time when you’re not playing, but you just have to roll with the punches,” he said. “It was a scrappy game (against the Cowboys, a few errors there, and Justo wanted to make some changes there. “It’s a tough ask, but we’re at home and have a lot of confidence in this week’s training.” ‘No answers’: Fifita experiment still open in Titans desperate search— April 27 Titans coach Justin Holbrook refused to close the door on the David Fifita centre experiment, admitting he had “no answers” for his side’s diabolic performance against North Queensland. The Gold Coast mentor shifted his marquee edge forward to centre for two reasons — to cover the void left by the injured Phillip Sami and in an attempt to spark something out his faltering outfit. MORE GOLD COAST SPORT Huge Southport omissions, star half down: Eight battles to decide RLGC Round 4What needs to happen for GCDRU women’s 15-a-side competition Gold coast rookie’s astounding numbers, but biggest test awaitsThere were moments where the Queensland Maroons star threatened with the ball, setting up the Titans only try. However his three errors and defensive misses out of position were noticeable in the 30-4 defeat.Holbrook said given the limited preparation Fifita had in the role, he was undecided whether or not he would attept the change again. “We’ve got to try things, we’re not winning games so we tried it an there was limited preparation there. It was a bit of a mixed bag mostly,” he said. “We’re not winning games of footy, so we have to come up with what we think is right. We thought it was right, and clearly it wasn’t, not just that move we were blown away by a much better team. “We got a couple wrong on the edges, but still in it at halftime and fighting hard there. No one’s happy about it (the performance), we’ve got no answers for it at the moment. “We’re trying stuff, it’s not working what we’re changing and it’s back to the drawing board of a big week.” The Titans were well beaten through the middle of the field, with skipper Tino Fa’asuamaleaui the only member of the Gold Coast pack to top 100 running metres. On top of that, the side’s 15 errors cruelled them of a chance to mount a counter-attack, with five-eighth AJ Brimson guilty of five according to Fox Stats and the centre pairing of Fifita and Brian Kelly three each. It ensured they held just 44 per cent of possession, with halves Brimson and Toby Sexton rarely afforded an opportunity to orchestrate their offense. Wingers Patrick Herbert (140m from 14 carries, two tackle busts) and Greg Marzhew (126m, seven tackle busts) were brave in defeat.While Fifita’s price tag comes with it the burden of expectation, his captain jumped to his defence when asked whether the 22-year-old’s backline stint could be long-term or if Saturday’s effort was enough to call off the ploy. Fa’asuamaleaui said it was not on Fifita to be the only man leading the charge with the ball. Given the commodity of errors shared across the group in the past seven weeks, he said it was a matter of the other 16 players selected laying a platform for the State of Origin gun to do what made him an NRL million dollar man. “It’s hard when we don’t complete as a team and work hard together,” Fa’asuamaleaui said. “We’ve seen what David can do when we’re competing and when we’re on top, but it’s hard for everyone on the field when we’re not completing and getting to our sets. “It’s not just him, it’s everyone that needs to work harder so we can get boys like David out wide and one-on-one with players. There’s bigger things than that.” ‘Great question’: Coach at a loss for Titans horror starts- April 17, 2022 Titans coach Justin Holbrook has thrown the gauntlet down to his side’s spine, in the wake of yet another loss in which their second half fight back was again in vain. Holbrook is at a loss for answers as to why his outfit are unable to start with the same confidence as they finish contests. For the second week in a row, the Gold Coast unit have allowed their rivals to run away with a commanding lead; their comeback ultimately doing nothing more than add flattery to the scoreline. MORE GOLD COAST SPORT Cyber League: Who the players are picking for their team ‘Another Haas is on the way’: Incredible start from teenage gun REPLAYS: Gold medals decided at Basketball Queensland under 16 girls state championshipsAgainst the Sea Eagles on Saturday night, they went into halftime with a 24-4 deficit to overturn.A bomb from halfback Toby Sexton and a final pass from five eighth AJ Brimson from the contest for the ball proved the only try assist between the halves pairing, hooker Erin Clark and fullback Jamayne Isaako. When asked after the Titans’ 26-16 loss why the club had, in consecutive weeks, put themselves in a position where they were chasing the game, Holbrook was at a loss but said his chief playmakers needed to command greater ownership of the results. “Great question, that’s what we’re trying to fix, we’ve done it for a couple of weeks in a row now which certainly means it doesn’t make sense,” he said. “We burn all our energy and then we find a way to really have a crack in the second half. “That’s where we’re going to get the lift – 7, 6, 1 and 9 improving – because these guys they are trying so hard. “It’s just those key moments or the finish of sets that we’re a little bit off, and that’s just making us fall short.”Prior to kick-off, Holbrook challenged his number seven Sexton to come out of his shell more and dictate proceedings against Queensland and Kangaroos maestro Daly Cherry-Evans. Try as he might, the performance from the 20-year-old mirrored that of his efforts against Parramatta the week before. Promising signs were there when forced to chase points, but the initial control of the clash from the opening whistle lacked potency. Holbrook said these were growing pains to be expected as his relatively inexperienced spine sought to establish continuity in their combinations. But he said the reality was they could not prove to be a finals factor on the back of tight losses and they needed the likes of Sexton to rise to the task. “I think he tried, I think the execution part wasn’t there but I think he was looking for opportunities that didn’t come off for us,” Holbrook said. “It’s a good work in progress, he’ll learn a lot from these six games that’s for sure. He’s a smart young kid, they’re hard lessons for us all at the moment. “We’re trying really hard with so many good signs out there but we’re not getting the results that we need to be getting now.” ‘Fair thing’: Titan defends controversial use of Captain’s Challenge- April 15, 2022 Titans centre Patrick Herbert has defended his controversial use of the Captain’s Challenge, declaring the threat of the sin bin fair play if it gets a wrong decision overturned. In the aftermath of the Gold Coast’s loss to Parramatta, Herbert and his teammates’ use of the challenge was called into question when on two occasions they intentionally conceded professional fouls.MORE GOLD COAST SPORT Squad analysis: Breaking down the 24-man Gold Coast Vikings RANKED: Gold Coast QAFL top 50 players How cricketer crafted his own turf wicket in the backyardIt gave them the chance to overturn the referee’s decision, despite NRL head of football Graham Annesley condemning the motive and confirming only an official decision could be challenged. By the rugby league boss’ definition, when Herbert held onto an Eels attacker for too long the missed indiscretion in which the Kiwi was held back from receiving a Tino Fa’asuamaleaui offload it should not have been reviewed as the referee did not initially pick up the foul. On both challenges the Titans ended up scoring to claw their way back into the contest, and Herbert said if the loophole existed, exploiting it should be within the players rights.The 25-year-old said if it got to the right call and the players were willing to risk a stint in the sin bin they should be able to make use of the ploy. “I watch a lot of footy, you see the other teams do it and you think ‘fair enough, it’s a call that’s been missed’,” Herbert said. “It was a bit of a stretch on the weekend, but it didn’t get called so I thought you know what I’ll do it, everyone else does it so why not? “When I did it I think it was a bit airy fairy, I felt like I was disadvantaged somewhat. Our teammate offloaded the ball I think I would’ve been in the picture.“Unfortunately everyone is going on about how we used it, I don’t know what to think about that. We get one challenge, if it’s wrong we go to the bin. I feel like it’s a fair thing if you want to do a professional foul by stopping the game. “If it’s the right call it’s the right call.”With Tom Trbojevic out of action, the Titans will take on Manly without the Sea Eagles greatest threat come Saturday night. It will mean usual left-side winger Reuben Garrick will line up at fullback, pitting rookie Christian Tuipulotu against giant Gold Coast flyer Greg Marzhew. Marzhew only gained his round one chance through an injury to veteran Corey Thompson, however so impressive has he been that he has retained his place on the flank. From his five appearances, the 104kg wrecking ball has averaged 144 running metres and almost six tackle busts a game. Herbert said when he lined up inside Marzhew in their opening round loss to the Eels they “were in shambles a bit” defensively. Now, however, he has seen a blossoming combination ready to cause chaos on the right-edge, and backed Marzhew’s yardage carries to be a palpable weapon against the Sea Eagles. “I think it’s the modern day winger, everyone doesn’t give them enough credit for the work they do,” Herbert said “Those are the hardest carries to do, you’ve got a whole team of 13 on the other end waiting to smash you when you’re 10m out from your own line. “Greggy’s done massive for us, it’s the modern day winger and I don’t think they get enough credit. I think now he’s got a spot he knows his job so it’s a lot clearer for him.” Meanwhile, Titans coach Justin Holbrook has declared fullback Jayden Campbell will be set to return next week, giving recruit Jamayne Isaako one final chance to cause the Titans coach a selection headache. The 22-year-old has been sidelined with a rib cartilage sustained in round three against the Raiders, with former Bronco Isaako assuming the number one jumper since. After returning to full contact training during the week, Holbrook said Campbell’s extended time out was more about protecting him for the season ahead. “He should be right next week, he’s running freely now without a lot of pain which is great,” Holbrook said. “If it was the backend of the year I think we’d be pushing him through now. But we learnt with Dave Fifita — that was his injury he played with at the back end of the year — that you can’t play with that all year.“We’ve got the luxury of it being earlier in the year trying to let it settle and get right so he’s not hampered with it the whole year.” Titans star hits back at NRL legend’s damning form assessment— April 13, 2022Titans marquee man David Fifita has declared he will prove NRL legend Scott Sattler wrong, after the premiership hero’s damning assessment of the Queensland forward’s early season form. Fifita’s hefty price tag carries with it the weight of expectation, and his brilliant solo try out of dummy-half against Parramatta highlighted his game-breaking ability. Those plays, however, have largely been isolated and far too rare moments. With his reported $1.2m a year contract comes the demands that he deliver those style of plays each week across the 80 minutes, at least according to Penrith champion Sattler. MORE GOLD COAST SPORT Demons revealed that drove star away from rugby league Dolphin, PBC star’s moment of brilliance in world stage debut RLGC Breakdown: Hopeful Hunter spearheads Round 3 standouts Speaking on SEN’s Pat and Heals breakfast radio show, Sattler claimed Fifita was “one of their worst players at the moment”, and that if the Titans could not find a way to get more out of him then the 22-year-old should be benched. Other critics have argued over where the issue lies — whether Fifita needed to go hunting for chances, or if his impact was largely dependent on the Gold Coast’s new combinations in the team figuring out just how to get the most out of their biggest weapon. Fifita is hardly playing poor football, averaging 118 running metres and more than four tackle busts a game. However given the Titans inability to close out tight contests in their 2-3 start to the campaign — losing by six points or less to the Eels (twice) and Raiders — they need their go-to men to stand up and ice the knock out blow. But Fifita, who is close friends with a relative of Sattler’s, said he felt comfortable with the way he was performing across the opening five rounds and was determined to prove the NRL great wrong. “It’s up to him, he can say whatever he wants to say. (I read) nothing into it. I’m really close with Blake Scott — (Scott Sattler is) his uncle — so for him to say those kind of words I’ll take it on the chin and prove him wrong,’ Fifita said. “I think I’m doing enough, getting my runs and that in games but obviously I need to keep working hard and get better each week.“I’ve just got to adjust. I have to get smart ball and go looking for the ball.” Fifita received an impassioned defence from teammate Jaimin Jolliffe, who said that with the name the Queensland gun carried came perhaps greater expectation than necessary. Ahead of the Titans clash with Manly, Jolliffe said the onus was not only on Fifita to go hunting for his own opportunities. Rather, after only having 37 per cent of possession in their first half shutout against Parramatta, it was on the rest of the side to lift and support their greatest threat. “Dave’s obviously a big name and he’s a great footballer, so there’s a level of expectation,” Joliffe said. “He’s a great player, there’s no doubt about that, he wouldn’t even be close to our worst player. He’s been really strong, but I suppose because everyone knows who he is and what he’s capable of there’s that expectation. “To be honest I don’t think David will look at that outside noise, I think it’s a bit harsh to be honest. As a team we need to help Dave, if we’re playing good football and we’re completing well Dave’s playing his best football.“When we have (37) per cent possession, and if Dave’s doing 30-odd tackles a game it limits the impact he has. It swings both ways, when we play better as a team he plays better, so we can all play harder for him.” Titan seeks to amend crucial flaw ahead of biggest career test— April 6, 2022Titans halfback Toby Sexton has thrust the onus upon himself and AJ Brimson to be the men who mastermind Parramatta’s downfall this week, as the pair seek to transform their kicking games. At just 21, Sexton is still very much in the early stages of his career, tasked with steering the Gold Coast around the park after 2021 maestro Jamal Fogarty was signed by the Raiders. While he has frequently showed signs of the promise and hype which has followed him through to the NRL, his and five-eighth Brimson’s ability to close out a contest was called into question after their side’s capitulation against Canberra two weeks ago. It was Sexton’s boot, a 79th minute bomb which hit the crossbar, that salvaged the Titans’ great escape against Wests Tigers. But now he said the time had come for he and Brimson to ensure what came off the boot was forcing their rivals on their heels far more regularly than what they had been across the opening four rounds. “We want to finish our sets as much as we can near abouts the try line, and at times they’re starting their sets on the 20 or 30m line. It’s not good enough from our behalf,” Sexton said. “We spoke for a long time about trying to win the game in the 79th minute which is what we were able to do. We copped a lot of criticism the week before against the Raiders, but we’re a young combo and we’re really confident as well. “Our kicking hasn’t been up to scratch lately, we’re putting a lot of time and effort into it and hopefully it will transfer on the weekend. “I think I’ve just been inconsistent with it, we’ve put a lot of work in … it just has to better in the games, more consistent and build a bit of pressure with that. “We as a pairing took a lot of confidence out of (the Tigers game) in that we can stand up and win games of footy like that.” Gold Coast will be out to avenge their high scoring defeat against the Eels in round one, however this time around could prove the biggest test of Sexton and Brimon’s fledgling partnership. Parramatta duo Mitchell Moses and Dylan Brown were emphatic in their 48-14 victory against the Dragons, setting up three tries and three linebreaks between them, while each averaged more than 10m each time they carried the ball. With Moses largely pulling the strings, Brown was able to tear St. George-Illawarra to shreds, running for 131m from 12 chances. Sexton said ultimately that formula was how he and Brimson would attempt to operate — the eight-game rookie guiding the troops with his State of Origin-capped partner striving to run rampant when the opportunity arose. “I like to steer the ship and AJ just pops up wherever he is. We’re building on it and are definitely really confident,” he said. “I’m really enjoying it, the boys have shown a lot of trust in me and I’ve got some good combinations over the pre-season. “It’s only early days, nothing is going to be perfect at this stage of the season, but at the same time we’re really working hard to build on those combinations.” Revealed: Why Titan’s Origin forward is on the outer Titans coach Justin Holbrook has revealed why veteran prop Jarrod Wallace has struggled to crack the game day 17, sighting the depth of the pack as the prevailing factor. Wallace, who at 30 stands as one of the most experienced members of the squad, played his first game of the NRL season in Thursday’s last-ditch triumph over Wests Tigers. MORE GOLD COAST SPORTTitans Radar: Prop on comeback hunt, Origin star’s brother debuts Biggest AFL players to join Coast QAFL clubs Cricket teams of the season: Every age, every gradeIt took Isaac Liu being felled with Covid-19 to get the six-time Queensland Origin representative into the side, finishing with 68m, two offloads and 17 tackles for no misses off the bench. After Wallace played every game for the Titans last year, it was somewhat surprising to see his name among the reserves for the opening three rounds. When the likes of Liu return from isolation, he could once again find himself out of the side. And Holbrook said it was the similarities he had with another man on the bench which had prevented him from featuring. “He’s a good player, it’s just he’s playing a similar job to Jimmy Jolliffe and we’re really happy with him. It was hard, we didn’t get our second trial in and that’s the beauty about our depth in the forwards,” Holbrook said. “We’ve got Isaac Liu, Mo (Fotuaika) and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui (Fa’asuamaleaui) as our starting middles, they’re as good as anybody so it’s hard to crack a starting spot. “Then it comes down to the benches and Jimmy Jolliffe has done outstanding, Sam Lisone provides that x-factor either side of halftime, KP (Kevin Proctor) can play middle or edge.“That’s how JWal unfortunately missed out on the first three games, but he played really well for us.” While the 8-6 victory over the Tigers will be an early contender for the sloppiest game of the season — marred by 27 errors between the two sides — Holbrook praised the turnaround in resilience his men showed. After last week’s second-half capitulation against Canberra, he said for all the faults in attack after a preparation disrupted by illness and flooding he was proud of a series of desperate tackles made to keep Wests at bay. “The big moment was Tino making that tackle on David Nofoaluma (forcing the ball loose),” Holbrook said. “One try was going to win it for someone and we not just found a way to score we saved a couple. Jamayne (Isaako) held them up over the line as well. “We had to do some massive defence things as well to win that. We got a fair bit of heat off last week’s game, we have to be accountable for that.“But in terms of the defence, we’ve played four games now and three of those we haven’t conceded a try in the second half.” Isaako on standby for shock Titans start as Campbell, Thompson sent for scans— March 28, Callum Dick JAMAYNE Isaako is in line to make a shock debut for Gold Coast barely a week after the Titans snatched the wantaway ex-Bronco from Parramatta’s clutches.Titans coach Justin Holbrook confirmed Isaako would come into selection calculations for Thursday night’s clash with the Wests Tigers at Cbus Stadium if young fullback Jayden Campbell is forced to miss due to a “bad rib injury”.Campbell was due to have scans on Monday with Holbrook likely to make a quick call on Isaako due to the midweek fixture.“If JC is no good then it does give Jamayne an opportunity for sure,” Holbrook said.The Titans announced Isaako had signed a one-year deal with the club last Tuesday and he travelled with the team to Canberra though didn’t play in the 24-22 loss.With limited preparation he may be thrust into the line-up against the winless Tigers, in what looms as an early-season must-win for the Titans after the capitulation in Canberra on Saturday night.“If he gets an opportunity (on) Thursday I know he’ll go well,” Holbrook said.“He’s got plenty of experience and he’s a quality player so there won’t be any issues if he does play.”Holbrook added winger Corey Thompson would also be considered for selection after missing the opening three rounds with a fractured hand, so long as scans clear him fit to play.Despite the horrid second half against the Raiders Holbrook called for calm after the Titans’ 1-2 start to 2022.“If you didn’t watch the game and just saw the score, we just got beat by Parramatta at Parramatta and by Canberra in Canberra, so I’ve been really happy over the three weeks collectively, but we know as a team we’ll get a lot better we just have to jag those wins along the way.”

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