TITANS skipper Scott Prince says ordinary form at the start of the season means their remaining five home games are now 'must win', starting with tonight against the Warriors.
But on match eve the Titans were dealt a savage blow to that goal with key forwards Greg Bird, Nate Myles and Luke Bailey ruled out.
Bird aggravated a bicep injury in the Origin and could miss up to two more weeks, Myles has a sternum issue and Bailey has failed to recover form a rib injury suffered against the Panthers three weeks ago. But in some rare positive news for the Titans, winger David Mead will play despite the death of his father on Tuesday.
Tonight's' match at Skilled Park on the Gold Coast is crucial for both teams. With a maximum 18 premiership points remaining and 28 generally accepted as the cut-off mark for the top eight, both the Warriors (18) and Titans (16) - ninth and tenth respectively - have little room to falter on the run home. And Prince understands that.
"For us that 'let's take one game at a time' line has now expired," he said. "We lost that luxury during our ordinary form in the first half of the season. Sure we have to keep our minds on the here and now and stay focussed on our next opponent, but we also know that we now need more wins than losses.
"That's why our remaining games at Skilled Park take on a greater significance."
After tonight the Titans play at home against the Broncos (round 20), Rabbitohs (22), Eels (24) and Sea Eagles (26), with all except the Eels about them on the ladder.
As last season's grand finalist, the Warriors have been disappointing in their 7-8 win loss ratio in 2012. And while they are the fourth-best attacking team and have already scored 63 tries and average 24 points a game, their defence is leaking almost 23.
But even more worrying is their form away from home.
They have lost five off their seven matches on the road in 2012 and still have five to play.
Fullback Kevin Locke and blockbusting young centre Konrad Hurrell, both with leg injuries, were under an injury cloud earlier in the week, but are expected to play for the Warriors.
In tonight's early game, Queensland Origin heroes Cameron Smith (broken nose) and Cooper Cronk (cork) are in some doubt for the Storm against the Raiders at Melbourne's AAMI Park. A decision on them will be left until just before the match.
Join the Community.
Get your local news, your way.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.