The Gold Coast Titans have undoubtedly been the NRL's biggest disappointment to kick off the 2024 NRL season.

Three weeks, three losses, and seemingly, a complete lack of ability to turn things around.

It's not just that the Titans, in their first season under Des Hasler's coaching, have lost three matches, either.

It's how they have lost three matches. They have been an abject disaster, falling to the St George Illawarra Dragons, Canterbury Bulldogs, and Dolphins, allowing more than 30 points in each game.

With as much respect as it's possible to pay to those sides, that's about as easy of a run as you could possibly expect to start a new season, and yet, the Titans have totally bottled it and are staring down the barrel of being out of finals contention realistically even if not mathematically before the season even gets going.

While defence is clearly a major issue for the Gold Coast, Des Hasler as good as summed it up during a very blunt post-game press conference on Saturday evening following the loss to the Dolphins at home by suggesting it was attack that is actually putting pressure on their defence.

And he certainly has a point. The Titans came racing out of the gates against the Dolphins, getting away to a 10-0 lead before failing dismally with the ball during a ten-minute period when they had a man advantage.

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Fatigue from being overworked in defence then set in during the second half, and the Titans found themselves on the wrong end of the ever-moving scoreboard time and time again on their way to a third heavy defeat.

The performance simply wasn't good enough for the Gold Coast, with the club completing at just 75 per cent, having only 47 per cent of the ball and that led to a ridiculous 39 missed tackles. For reference, the Dolphins missed just 18 in a performance where they turned up for each other time and time again.

"You could probably copy and paste last week. We are not putting two halves together, we aren't executing well. I thought there at one stage during the first half we had a good opportunity to put them away. They had one in the sin bin, but we came up with dropped balls and leg up penalties," Hasler said during his post-match press conference.

"12-10 at halftime, then we start the same process as last week where we just aren't good enough yet. We are still growing. Defensively we need to not have so much pressure, but it's all to do with our attack. I thought we had a little bit better shape today, but just inexcusable where we are turning over possession.

"It's part and parcel of the game. We have to get better at that. We haven't put two halves together and it's something that we have to keep working at.”

It was a sentiment club captain Kieran Foran, who has struggled to start the new year under a coach he has had plenty to do with over the journey, agreed with.

"I think we just aren't consistent enough with our attack. We are coming up with silly errors early on, and when we do get an opportunity we do come away with points, but we aren't down there enough and then eventually, we get too exhausted from defending that we leak points," Foran said.

NRL Rd 3 - Titans v Storm
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 18: Kieran Foran of the Titans passes the ball during the round three NRL match between the Gold Coast Titans and the Melbourne Storm at Cbus Super Stadium on March 18, 2023 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Jono Searle/Getty Images)

"We need to find a way to control the ball better, get more sets down there and we just aren't doing that at the moment. It just feels like we are constantly on the back foot defending."

The difference between Wayne Bennett and Des Hasler's sides is stark, and it was obvious throughout Saturday's contest.

And yet, despite Hasler and Foran's press conference comments seemingly being on the same page and Hasler's now public knowledge post-game rant to his players, the coach has made a grand total of zero changes to his spine for this weekend's difficult trip north to Townsville.

There, they will clash with the North Queensland Cowboys, who themselves will be stinging from last weekend's loss to the Brisbane Broncos.

The form of the Cowboys prior to that match was outstanding though, and they enter the game against the Dolphins as heavy, heavy favourites.

Even more so when you consider Hasler has picked the same spine.

While Foran is undroppable, everybody else should be just about on the chopping block.

While not wanting to single out a player, Tanah Boyd has been nowhere near good enough so far this year, Jayden Campbell didn't overly impress in his return from injury against the Dolphins, and Sam Verrills coming off the bench is just an odd situation.

While Campbell deserves more than a single game at the back, what is clear is that AJ Brimson in the centres hasn't worked.

He has been mostly absent from action so far this year, averaging just 76 metres per game. Let that sink in. The Titans' best attacking weapon, in a side that has scored just 18 points in three games, has run the football only 76 metres per game.

And you could forget about that, because the really alarming stat is that he has only touched the thing 51 times in those three games. It's little surprise a little bit more involvement against the Dolphins saw him assist two of the Titans' tries.

The Titans must build their team around Brimson's best spot. That, for mine, is fullback, although you could make an argument it's five-eighth.

The experiment of Brimson to five-eighth has been attempted previously though with poor results.

That means he needs to be at the back, directing traffic in both attack and defence, and getting his hands on the football far more than he has been over the opening month of the new campaign.

With Brimson at the back, it still leaves the question over what to do with Tanah Boyd.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 08: Tanah Boyd of the Titans offloads the ball in a tackle during the round nine NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the Gold Coast Titans at Campbelltown Sports Stadium, on May 08, 2021, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Hasler would likely oppose the idea of making two spine changes in the same week, so Boyd may then have a chance to turn things around with Brimson in the spine, but patience will probably run out quickly.

It's a good thing though the Titans have a ready-made replacement in former junior New South Wales player Thomas Weaver. The youngster is freakishly talented and has been nothing but solid at reserve grade level.

It's high time he sees more action, with Boyd then fighting for a spot on the bench as the utility, which, by the way, could well exist with Verrills starting, and Chris Randall playing as a back-up dummy half and middle forward.

The Titans desperately need added starch in their middle third following the season-ending injury to Tino Fa'asuamaleaui. While I'm not suggesting for a moment Randall could replace the club captain's output, he would add something by coming off the bench and letting Verrills do what he is meant to do - start in the number nine.

Hasler is fast running out of time to save the Titans' season. A loss this week and you could almost put a line through them.

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He hasn't made the changes on team list Tuesday, but there is still hope he might swing a big call on game day, or, failing that, without a major turnaround, leading into Round 6.

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