iSelect Titans original Mark Minichiello is predicting a frenetic race for positions when the Gold Coast take on the Cowboys in their final pre-season trial in Toowoomba on Saturday night.
Jetting back into the Gold Coast from the weekend’s Auckland Nines tournament, the 32-year-old who was a foundation player for the Titans in 2007, said the competition for positions was as intense as ever at the club.
“We are back to the 13-a-side game and it’s getting close to the season so we have to start performing,’’ he said.
“There is always pressure on positions - that is the great thing. It brings out the best in players and we have a lot of depth this year. We have a lot of blokes who are stepping up and they keep you on your toes and that makes sure you keep performing week-in, week-out.
“Of course I want to be there (in the top side). I will do my best, play the best I can and the rest is up to the coaching staff.”
Minichiello was one of the Titans best in their trial against the Warriors and during the subsequent Nines tournament. He scored two tries in the club’s final Nines hit-out, against the Sharks, which resulted in a loss to the Coast and their exit from the competition.
“I thought we performed really well in the trail in New Zealand,” he said.
“We stood up and ended up winning the game quite comfortably. There were a lot of good things come out of that game and I hope that will be the case again this weekend.
“This Saturday night’s trial is a very important game for us, to get a good hit-out leading into game one (against the Sharks). The Cowboys (who won the Nines tournament) are going to be a tough task. It will be a great challenge and everyone will stand up and it will be the last chance to get selected for round one.
“We were pretty poor in the one-on-one tackles in those last two games in the Nines, so I think defensively we need to improve a fair bit.”
Despite the Titans winning just one of their three outings in the abridged version of the game, Minichiello had plenty of great memories from the weekend.
“It was unreal. A lot of fun,’’ he said.
“It took a while to get used to the pace of the game, but it was a great atmosphere. I thought it was a great concept for the fans.”
Those sentiments were echoed by club vice-captain William Zillman.
“The atmosphere was unbelievable. I am so happy I was a part of it. It will grow again next year,” he said.
Zillman is also expecting a tough trial against the Cowboys.
“The Cowboys will have their tails up,’’ he said.
“It was their defence that got them home in the Nines. They were outstanding,
“In our squad there are still a few question marks over a number of positions. We have more depth this year and that is good. That will bring out the best in players.”