Titans, Eels battle for NRL spoon - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Titans, Eels battle for NRL spoon

By Laine Clark 02/09/2011 06:08:12 PM Comments (0)

Maybe it is fitting Gold Coast boss Michael Searle felt like a love-struck 15-year-old ahead of the NRL's regular-season finale.

Because hearts will be broken at Skilled Park on Saturday night.

In what would have been unthinkable just last season, top-four regulars the Titans and 2009 grand finalists Parramatta can only look forward to avoiding the wooden spoon when they clash this weekend.

Sure, the Titans can cling to sending off retiring veteran Preston Campbell on a winning note.

But nothing can quite take away the bitter taste left in the mouths of both clubs in what Searle described as the Gold Coast's "Halley's Comet" year.

"One that only comes along every 75 years," Searle told AAP.

The Titans will farewell nine players on Saturday night including foundation members Campbell, Brad Meyers (both retirement), Anthony Laffranchi (England) and Nathan Friend (Warriors).

But Searle's thoughts were with someone he was adamant was staying at the club - despite some nasty rumours.

As their disappointing season winds down, Searle can joke about the speculation that playmaker Scott Prince was being shopped around by the Titans.

However, he did admit the rumours had made not only Prince - but also Searle - nervous.

"I felt like a 15-year-old going out with their first girlfriend," Searle said of the rumours.

"I said to Princey after hearing the speculation 'I love you' - and he said he loved being here.

"Listening to the innuendo, it was clearly BS.

"But it can still create fears and doubts, like when you are a 15-year-old.

"It made us both fearful. But, thankfully at this club, we have a clear communication line.

"It's bizarre. According to the experts, 12 months ago we couldn't win without him.

"Now we joke about it - I said to Princey the other day 'have you packed your bags yet?'."

But it will be no laughing matter when a Gold Coast side tries to avoid the wooden spoon for the first time since the now-defunct Seagulls collected it from 1991-93.

The Eels haven't finished last since way back in 1972 - but coincidentally, avoided the spoon thanks to the Seagulls in 1991 and 1992.

Canberra can only come into last place calculations if they lose to the Bulldogs by more than 60 points on Sunday.

Along with the Sydney Roosters, the Raiders are one of the season's big disappointments - but at least they have an excuse.

Former Test pivot Terry Campese has been lost to groin surgery while Canberra's supposed saviour Matt Orford has been so injury-prone, he is expected to be cut with two years left on his contract.

And the Roosters' charge to the 2010 grand final was led by Todd Carney - however, the Dally M Medallist fell out of favour after a series of alcohol-related incidents.

But the Titans and Eels?

Surely, they must rank as the year's great underachievers.

Yet Searle could find positives.

"It allowed us to look at ourselves a bit more, at how we handle adversity," he said.

"The true test is how you perform under pressure and losing games.

"I think we will be better off because of this."

The cavalry will arrive next year with the likes of Jamal Idris, Nate Myles and Beau Champion due on the tourist strip.

But Searle's thoughts were also on those leaving - particularly ex-Dally M Medallist Campbell.

"No matter what I say about him, it is an understatement," he said of the 14-year NRL veteran.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2022 AAP

0 Comments about this article

Post a comment about this article

Please sign in to leave a comment.
Becoming a member is free and easy, sign up here.

« All sports news