Toopi to Titans' NRL rescue - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Toopi to Titans' NRL rescue

Wayne Heming 03/06/2011 05:13:01 PM Comments (0)

Embattled Gold Coast coach John Cartwright hopes Kiwi international Clinton Toopi's professional attitude can turn around the struggling club's NRL fortunes and help save their season against Penrith on Saturday night.

Cartwright said it was tough dropping Esi Tonga for hardened 22-Test player Toopi, but admitted he needed more experience and leadership to get the Titans back on track.

Sitting in last place with just three wins this year, another loss to an equally-desperate but in better form Panthers could just about kill off their season.

Toopi, who'd been in outstanding form for Burleigh Heads since being sent back to the Queensland Cup, fitted Cartwright's bill.

"He's been a real leader in the group and we're at the stage where we need some leaders out there," said Cartwright, exonerating Tonga from being a scapegoat.

"I feel for Esi a little bit, but the fact is we need some leaders and some talkers and Toopi's definitely one of those.

"He's very experienced and you have to admire a guy who's done so much in the game at international level, who can go back to Burleigh and be such a leader back there.

"He hasn't gone back and kicked stones. He's stayed positive and he's got himself back in the side."

Titans skipper Scott Prince said he welcomed 31-year-old Toopi's recall.

"He's got a lot of experience and he's a leader. I'm very happy to see him back in the squad," said Prince, adding every player had to improve their work ethic.

Penrith utility Luke Lewis will be out to back up his standout game against South Sydney - when he had 32 tackles, made 133 metres and broke 10 tackles - to send another reminder to NSW Origin selectors who overlooked him for game one.

Lewis, one of several Panthers dangermen, said he hadn't thought too much about his Origin snub.

"I'd love to play (Origin) but I thought the guys that were there in game one were unreal," he said.

Blues coach Ricky Stuart, though, will have no choice but to recall him if he continues his recent impressive form.

Cartwright hoped fans turned out in big numbers with so much riding on the result.

"We owe our fans a good performance. I've said it before when we're going well, we've got the best fans in the league," he said.

"When they turn up and get behind us, they're definitely worth six or 10 points.

"We're not going to come out and turn everything around and put on a scintillating performance.

"We have to get our hands dirty and grind our way to a victory and hopefully that leads to another one.

"We've been dropping off the little team things we've been so good at.

"It's not so much about leadership, it's individually about doing that little bit extra for your teammate."

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