All season long, Gold Coast have been written off.
The NRL’s wooden spoon favourites in pre-season.
The over-achievers who would just miss out on finals later in the year.
Now, ahead of their first finals match in six years, the doubters are out in force again.
There’s no way Neil Henry’s men can defeat Brisbane in Brisbane on Friday night is there? History, form and experience are all in favour of the Broncos.
Gold Coast haven’t won in Brisbane since 2007. Nine straight losses to the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium – the team they have their worst record against of any NRL club (5-15).
It’s the kind of scenario the Titans have made a habit of overcoming all year long and one they’re relishing as they prepare to journey up the M1 for Friday’s elimination encounter.
“I’ve pretty much felt like an underdog all year round,” Titans backrower Greg Bird said.
“No one expected us to make the semis. No one expects us to go to Suncorp and get a win.
“I’ll take the underdog tag and hopefully we can surprise a few people.”
Both clubs have met in a final before – a 40-32 win to the Broncos in 2009.
Don’t expect a similar scoreline this time around.
Bird and his teammates have forged their year on being tough to beat.
They might not always win but their opponents know they’ve been in one red-hot contest.
A man the Suncorp Stadium crowd love to hate from his exploits for NSW in State of Origin football, Bird says neither team will be giving much away as they try to keep their seasons alive.
“We haven’t got the luxury of being able to score 30 or 40 points,” he said.
“We’re going to have tighten our middle up and have that defensive focus.”
The X-factor however might be on the Titans side of the ledger – big-game specialist Jarryd Hayne.
The last eighth placed team to win a final in the NRL was in 2009, when Hayne inspired Parramatta past St George Illawarra and all the way to a grand final.
Hayne is yet to really fire for the Titans since his late season arrival, but if Bird and co get their way the ex-NFL player might be set to take another underdog on an unlikely journey.
“It’s been well publicised we haven’t been in this position for a long time and a lot of players here, almost all of them, weren’t here in 2010,” Bird said.
“It’s a good feeling to have in the club … hopefully we can go up and make the guys proud.”