After a horror weekend when they slipped from seventh to 10th on the NRL ladder, Gold Coast’s season goes on the line against the Wests Tigers this Saturday at Campbelltown.
The Titans’ 24-14 loss in Jarryd Hayne’s first appearance for his new club against the Warriors was a huge setback in Gold Coast’s bid to end their six-year wait for a finals spot.
Not only did the Warriors leap over the Titans with their victory but wins to the Tigers and Penrith elevated both Sydney clubs above Gold Coast as well.
It’s left coach Neil Henry in no doubt about just how important Saturday’s match is.
“It’s a game that we’re desperate to win. We drop this game, we’re long odds of making the finals this year,” Henry said.
The Titans have won three of their past four encounters against the Tigers, including a 30-18 win earlier this year at Robina.
After last week’s Hayne-mania following the 28-year-old’s arrival on a two-year deal, Henry is hoping for a more low-key build-up for his team.
But he admits that will be difficult, given Hayne will be playing for the first time in western Sydney since leaving Parramatta to chase a dream of playing in the American NFL.
“We’ve had enough. He’s had enough,” Henry said of the media attention surrounding the dual Dally M winner.
“It’s still going to be media anyway when he goes down to play Campbelltown, playing his junior footy down there. That’s what it is.
“Positive for the game, that generates a few more fans at Campbelltown. I’m sure Wests Tigers will be happy about that too.”
Henry says getting on top of Tigers young guns Mitchell Moses and James Tedesco will be crucial if his team is to come away from the match with their finals’ hopes intact.
“Moses has been good. Tedesco’s been sensational at the back,” he said.
“They’ve got good speed; they like to play a quick game with good ball movement; it’s a big challenge for us at Campbelltown.”