After six years in the NRL finals wilderness, Gold Coast coach Neil Henry is challenging the Titans to seize the opportunity and grab a top eight berth.
The Titans host Parramatta on Saturday in the first of three straight home fixtures.
After climbing back into the top eight with last week’s impressive dismantling of St George Illawarra, the Titans now welcome the Eels, table-topping Cronulla and the Warriors to Robina in consecutive weeks.
Henry is in no doubt how crucial those three games will be in the Titans’ bid to reach the finals for the first time since 2010.
“It’s our opportunity and we’ll either take it or we won’t and I’ll be disappointed if we don’t,” he said.
“We play four teams that are around where we are anyway so if we’re good enough and beat them, the ladder will take care of itself.”
Henry has been forced into one change from the team which beat the Dragons 32-12 at Kogarah with back-rower Greg Bird suspended.
Nathaniel Peteru has been included in Bird’s place but Henry admits he may have to do a bit of shuffling to his lineup.
“Agnatius (Paasi) and Vaha (Pulu) are keen to play more minutes,” he said.
“It’s a good test for other guys to step up in the forwards.”
The Eels head north fresh on confirmation five-eighth Corey Norman’s year is over after he was hit with an eight-match ban for his recent off-field indiscretions.
Former Titan Brad Takairangi has been included in place of injured NSW Origin star Michael Jennings in the centres and is the only change to the team which lost to Penrith last weekend.
Eels coach Brad Arthur says the club’s players deserve credit for their attitude during what has been a season full of setbacks off the field.
“It’s got nothing to do with me, it’s their mentality and their attitude,” Arthur said.
TITANS v EELS – Key match stats
* The Titans have their best overall record against the Eels, winning nine of 14 matches, including five of the past seven.
* Parramatta has won five of eight matches played away from home this season but lost their last four times in Queensland.
* In-form Titans winger Nene MacDonald has scored seven tries in 11 matches at Cbus Stadium.