Titans coach buoyed by NRL rookie's debut

·3-min read

Son of a gun Jayden Campbell has provided a glimmer of hope for Gold Coast coach Justin Holbrook after a heartbreaking 20-14 NRL loss to Melbourne.

Holbrook needed some cheering up after Titans flyer Phillip Sami botched a last gasp chance for Gold Coast to send their clash at Sunshine Coast Stadium on Saturday night into extra-time.

The Titans mentor could be seen with his head in his hands in the coaches' box after Sami broke free on their left edge following the full-time siren and lined up Esan Marsters to score a miracle try, only to throw the ball over the sideline.

Holbrook was clearly still hurting when he fronted media post-match but could manage a smile when asked about Campbell's NRL debut.

The son of Titans great and former Dally M Medallist Preston was impressive at fullback while his famous dad proudly watched on in the stands. He ran 164m with five tackle busts and just two errors.

His highlights reel included having a hand in fellow debutant Greg Marzhew's 14th minute try, snuffing out a late Storm try by chopping Nicho Hynes in half, and cleverly keeping the ball alive to launch Gold Coast's ill-fated post-siren assault.

"I thought he was great. It's not easy to play Melbourne Storm in your first game but he was terrific - a great young player," Holbrook said of 21-year-old livewire Campbell.

"He understands the game well, JC, and he probably held back a little on what I wanted because I know he's got more to give.

"That's understandable being his first game - he'll only get better.

"He's a tough kid and when he's carrying the ball back everyone wants to smash him - and there's not much of him - but he doesn't let it happen."

Campbell provided a spark for a Titans outfit with four State of Origin players out and a lengthy injury list after overcoming plenty of pre-game anxiety.

"They (nerves) were ridiculous. I think I spewed about four or five times before the game," Campbell told Fox League.

"Justin said to just back myself and that he wants me to be me.

"I enjoyed every minute of it. Ever since I was young all I ever wanted to do was play rugby league so to represent the Titans the same as my old man is awesome."

Meanwhile, Holbrook lamented the Titans' missed chances down their left edge which bombed try after try in the second half.

The worrying trend's best example was when Brian Kelly inexplicably opted not to pass to a wide open Sami and lost the ball over the line in the 70th minute.

Gold Coast, who are 11th with a 5-8 record, will need to turn it around fast after crashing to their sixth loss in eight games.

"I thought we did enough to get the win," Holbrook said.

"We've got to string some wins together definitely and we've got to do it fast."

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