CO-CAPTAIN Greg Bird has issued a pre-derby warning that private combinations honed during the summer by staying back after training are on the verge of bearing fruit for the Titans.
Back-rower Bird tells Rugby League Week Gold Coast stars have worked on attacking formations in their spare time, in position-specific groups, and the tricks nutted out during a long, hot off-season are now being tried on opposition defences.
The Titans go into Friday night’s Skilled Park showdown with Brisbane in better shape than their ‘big brothers’, with just one defeat from the opening month of the season compared with the Broncos’ 1-3 record.
“As you watch, week-in, week out, you’ll see little combinations working,” says Bird, “like Jamal (Idris) and David Mead, they’ve been doing things.
“Albert Kelly and Matty Srama around the rucks have been doing a bit.
“We’ve seen a little bit but they’ll keep getting better. If we keep our focus on our defence and let the individuals work out their combinations, that’s going to be best thing for us.
“The onus has been put on the players. Carty (coach John Cartwright) hasn’t been putting us in groups and saying ‘work your stuff out’.
“It’s been after training, blokes have been getting together and working on their little combinations and I think that’s the best part about it.
“It hasn’t been coach-enforced or senior player-enforced. The onus has purely been put on them and I think it’s been showing.”
Bird also gave RLW an insight into the areas he has been focusing on with the players around him.
“I do a bit of work with Aiden Sezer on our edge – just picking when he’s going to run and trying to push into holes because he’s such a strong runner,” he said.
“It’s such a stong part of his game that I’ve got to try and keep an eye on him because he’s so deceptive … and getting that offload ready for Willy Zillman, that’s been one of our strengths as well.”
The Australia star says St George Illawarra’s win over Cronulla on Saturday proves that there is no room for complacency in derbies.
“That’s the thing about rivalries and the thing about the derbies – where you are on the table doesn’t matter,” Bird said.
“The local derbies, everything comes out. The emotions come out. Fans come out of nowhere. The winner of the game is all about who’s most passionate, who is most determined on the night.
“They’ve got a strong forward pack, very similar to us. The Benny Hannants and the Matt Gilletts will be out to prove a point.”
Titans players previously told us new trainer Dan Ferris with their improvements this year.
“The focus on our defence has been a big thing,” says Bird. “We’re trying to hold teams our rather than putting all our emphasis into scoring points.”
Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK