We are no chokers: Titans - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

We are no chokers: Titans

By Laine Clark 02/09/2010 06:01:37 PM Comments (0)

A year older and wiser, the Gold Coast will be out to ditch their "choker" tag ahead of a night that won't just test the Titans' mettle.

The stakes may be higher for arch rivals Brisbane as they try to extend an amazing run of 18 straight finals campaigns with a big win over fellow top eight hopefuls Canberra at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.

But the Titans (4th; 14-9) will be out to achieve more than a home NRL final when they line up against another top four aspirant - Wests Tigers (2nd; 15-8) - at Skilled Park on the same night.

For the second straight year the Titans are finals bound - and for the second straight year their mental strength has been called into question.

Alarm bells were ringing after the Titans' 2009 finals crash followed their spectacular 2008 season freefall.

And they weren't getting any quieter when the Titans were upset by the lowly Sharks last round with a finals tilt in sight.

But Titans coach John Cartwright believed the heartache of the past had only steeled his side as they looked to silence the critics.

Asked if his side were mentally stronger, Cartwright said on Thursday: "I think so.

"The intensity has picked up.

"We would like a top four spot secured, but that's in our hands.

"We don't have any excuses."

Ex-Test backrower Anthony Laffranchi - who returns from a shoulder injury to replace Luke Bailey (thumb) in the Titans front-row - was more forthright.

"We had some pretty good form coming into the finals last year and bowed out in straight sets," he said.

"We got that taste of defeat which is hard to swallow at that time of year.

"We are probably in a better mental state this time around."

And they will want to have their heads right.

The Titans will be tested on an emotional night that will see retiring dual international Mat Rogers play in his final regular season home game.

And of course there's the big loss of Bailey.

Not that the Titans can breath easy even if they do secure a home final.

They opened their 2009 finals campaign at home, and bowed out with a 40-32 loss to Brisbane at Skilled Park and 27-2 to Parramatta at the SFS.

But Cartwright did not think they choked.

"I definitely thought we were switched on last year - in my mind we just ran into two better sides," he said.

"Every week some side has to lose and we lost two big ones last year - people can read into that what they like."

In a worry for the Titans, Wests Tigers dangerman Robbie Farah was looking well beyond a top four finish.

"I thought from the start of the season we can win the comp and my opinion hasn't changed," he said.

"If anything I have grown more confident.

"We are in the semis now and we are confident with everyone fit and healthy we are a match for anyone."

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