Storm warning: Welch wary of Titans

Jasper Bruce |

After breaking their duck in Auckland, the Titans are looking for back-to-back wins over Melbourne.
After breaking their duck in Auckland, the Titans are looking for back-to-back wins over Melbourne.

Christian Welch is warning Melbourne must be on their guard facing a resurgent Gold Coast.

The Titans were the only winless side this NRL season before coming from behind to beat the Warriors in Auckland on Anzac Day.

Last week’s round-eight upset came after Gold Coast threatened to ambush Canberra and Manly in the fortnight prior.

Easybeats in Des Hasler’s first month at the helm, the Titans have been able to improve even without injured superstar Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, who ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in March.

That resilience has been enough to impress the injured captain’s ex-teammate Christian Welch.

“Beating the Warriors in New Zealand is not an easy thing to do,” Welch said.

“They played really well. They’re a really hard-working team and they’ve had some adversity.

“Any team without your star player Tino, who brings so much, to lose that guy … it takes a bit for the team to adjust. It looks like they’ve moved on from that.”

Ahead of Saturday’s clash, the prop is doubly wary of the Titans given the Storm’s previous trip to the Glitter Strip.

Gold Coast upset eventual preliminary finalists Melbourne 38-34 at Cbus Super Stadium in round three last season.

Celebrating Titans players.
Titans players celebrate after Alofiana Khan-Pereira’s try in last season’s home win over the Storm. (Dave Hunt/AAP PHOTOS)

“They towelled us up. We’ve got to really keep an eye out for them,” Welch said.

Welch’s intel from Titans forward and former Storm teammate Joe Stimson is that Hasler has imbued his side with new resilience since then.

“Everyone’s pre-season is tough but (Stimson) was telling me they were doing two or three days a week full tackle, full flogging each other,” Welch said.

“Hasler’s brought that real hard edge so I’m sure they’re going to start seeing the benefits long-term.

“They’ve got a lot of threats, Dave Fifita is back to his freakish best.

“He’s such an impressive physical specimen of a guy and then guys like AJ Brimson, who’s got the speed and physicality. They’ve got plenty of strike.”

AAP