iSelect Gold Coast Titans coach John Cartwright juggled an injured list with the need to finalise positions when he named a squad of 24 to take on the Cowboys in Toowoomba on Saturday night.
Cartwright has an exciting roster for 2014 with several new faces. However finalising a squad for the opening round, away against the Sharks on Monday, March 10, has not been easy.
Saturday night’s trial will be the club’s last. Not considered for that game because of injury were co-captain Nate Myles, hookers Beau Falloon and Matt Srama and prop Ryan James.
However the depth of the Gold Coast squad is evident in the names for the trial outing.
There is plenty of interest in on the centre pairing for round one. For years this area has been the Titans Achilles heel. However in 2014 there are four quality players vying for those two positions.
Cartwright has named newcomers Maurice Blair and Brad Tighe as starting, with Brad Takairangi and Jamie Dowling on the extended bench.
“Brad Takairangi missed a fair bit of training with the World Cup,’’ said Cartwright.
“With four there fighting for two spots they will all get good game time. It is a position we have always been short, now we have four quality ones.
“Brad Tighe has had about 150 first grade games and he is a try-scorer. In his short time here he has proved very popular. He is a very positive character who works very hard on his game. He is the sort of person that we want at the club.”
Pivot Aidan Sezer proved his fitness during today’s field session after being rested from the weekend’s Nines tournament after a hamstring scare. While he trained, his halves partner Albert Kelly, did not, sidelined with a rib problem.
“It is nothing long-term,’’ said Cartwright of Kelly’s condition.
“We will take him to Toowoomba and the physio tells me he should be OK.
Another absentee today was flyer Kevvie Gordon, who Cartwright said was suffering from a virus and should be fit for the trail.
Cartwright is hopeful Myles, James and Falloon will all be fit for selection for round one.
Cartwright said there was plenty to play for on Saturday night.
“This weekend we just want to see what we have been working on during the off-season,’’ he said.
“It is not a premiership game and there are no points on the line, but there is pride every time you take the field. We have 24 guys competing for 17 spots so it will be competitive.”
Winger David Mead, who debuted for the Titans back in 2009, said he is excited by the vibe surrounding the club this year.
“I see a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of young, fresh energy,’’ he said.
“It is something I have not seen previously. Obviously in past years we have had a lot of experience. Some of those players have moved on and we now have a lot of young players coming through who have a lot of passion and fresh enthusiasm.
“They are willing to compete and push everyone else to their best. That is what I see in this side. Those guys pushing each other and helping this team to do better this year.
Mead has no doubts the 2014 Titans are top four contenders.
“I believe we are a top four team,’’ he said.
“It is just a matter of going out on the field and delivering what we are doing at training.”
Saturday night’s game against the Cowboys kicks off at 6.30pm at Clive Berghofer Stadium, Toowoomba.
1. William Zillman
2. David Mead
3. Maurice Blair
4. Brad Tighe
5. Kevin Gordon
6. Aidan Sezer
7. Albert Kelly
8. Luke Bailey
9. Paul Carter
10. Luke Douglas
11. Greg Bird (C)
12. Ben Ridge
13. Ashley Harrison
14. Dave Taylor
15. Matt White
16. Mark Minichiello
17. Sam Irwin
18. Mark Ioane
19. Anthony Don
20. Kalifa Fai Fai Loa
21. Siuatonga Likiliki
22. Jamie Dowling
23. Brad Takairangi
24. Matt Beddow