Titans keep eyes on the prize
GOLD Coast Titans coach John Cartwright wants his players to soak up the moment of making the club's first NRL finals but has told them the good times are still ahead.
Cartwright's memories of Penrith's first premiership win against Canberra in 1991 will be valuable in the coming weeks as the Titans cope with the pressure that goes with a maiden finals campaign.
But the last thing he's worried about is his players getting caught up in the moment and taking their eye off the ball with all the hype that comes with finals hysteria.
“There's enough experience there to know we haven't achieved anything,” said Cartwright, confident co-captains Scott Prince and Luke Bailey, as well as Preston Campbell and Mat Rogers, can keep the players' feet on the ground and their heads out of the clouds.
“It was a bit of a relief to win last weekend and put it to bed.
“We're happy where we are but we know there's so many good times ahead if we stay focused.”
Cartwright wants to close out the club's most successful season with wins against the Wests Tigers and Manly to get them in the right frame of mind for finals football.
“We're certainly not going out there (against the Tigers) to rest,” he said.
“We want to go into the finals with wins under our belt. We've got two tough games which I think are great preparations for the semi-final.
“The next two games are our building blocks for the finals.”
Cartwright was having nothing to do with talk the Tigers would be vulnerable having their winning streak stopped by Parramatta last weekend.
“I don't buy into that, they've got plenty of momentum,” he said.
“They've won six out of seven and their season is on the line.”
The Tigers' style of broken field attack is something Cartwright said was difficult to plan for.
“You've got to be on your game for 80 minutes. They can strike from anywhere and they can be deadly from anywhere,” he said.
“The unpredictability of their good players (Benji) Marshall and (Robbie) Farah make them very hard to defend.”
Queensland Origin forward Ashley Harrison was included in an extended squad to make a comeback from a rib injury which has sidelined him for six weeks.
“We can't declare him at this stage,” said Cartwright when asked if Harrison would be playing.
“If he's not 100 per cent, we won't risk him.”
Backline utility Chris Walker was also named but no decision has been made of his injury comeback.
- For Anthony Laffranchi's views on how the Titans are travelling, check out “Laffranch-ly Speaking” on page 25.