Titans are the real NRL superheroes
ONLY those NRL clubs contracted to jersey manufacturer ISC will don superheroes jerseys this weekend in the Marvel round, and the Gold Coast Titans are not one of those teams.
But the Titans have no need for a cape, mask or even any specific superpowers. After last weekend's magnificent victory over the highly fancied Eels, the Gold Coast club has added yet another chapter to a chronicle of courageous efforts spanning three decades.
Missing nine of their NRL squad, including million-dollar man Jarryd Hayne, English international Dan Sarginson and frontline dummy half Nathan Peats, and also being forced to include two players carrying injury, the Titans were simply heroic. And they didn't just win - they hammered the previously unbeaten Eels 26-14.
Nothing has changed much this weekend - in fact the injury front is even bleaker. But so it is for the Cowboys too, who are coming of an unexpected hiding at home and have seven squad members in their casualty ward.
And while the visitors will come to the glitter strip dressed in their Captain America regalia, the home side will be the same old Titans - busted and besieged, but always brave.
However, while they may not be wearing any fancy clobber, the Titans have garnered some super support from nearby Movie World. Helping to whip up the crowd will be superhero characters the Justice League - represented by Green Lantern and Wonder Woman - as well as Batman.
Being the odd man out and struggling against sometimes insurmountable odds is nothing new to the rugby league franchises that have tenanted the Gold Coast over the past three decades. They have perpetually been the poor relations of the NRL, have rarely had the financial resources to match it with the big boys and have battled to attract elite players.
Yet when under the pump they have produced some heroic wins, and last weekend's victory stands among their best.
But probably their finest hour was back in 1988, their foundation year, as the Gold Coast Giants, with a win against big brother the Broncos. It was round 10 and the Broncos had lost just two games - the Giants were winless.
Despite the Broncos being stacked with seven internationals including the likes of Lewis, Miles and Dowling, the seaside underdogs did a job on their highly fancied visitors with literally a team of Sydney cast-offs, winning 25-22 in an absolute cliffhanger. And such was the size of the crowd that day cars were still snaking their way out of the Tweed Heads ground two hours after the final whistle.
Graham Annesley and Neil Henry would give their right arm for a super performance like that from their troops on Saturday night.
GOOD: Billy Slater's long-awaited return. Good for Billy, good for the game.
BAD: Sacking Jason Taylor after three rounds when repeatedly throughout the off-season Tigers management was adamant he had its backing.
UGLY: Sam Thaiday - deliberately, it appeared - grabbing the injured thumb of Jesse Bromwich. Not a good look Sam.