There may not be any competition points on offer, but there is plenty at stake for the iSelect Gold Coast Titans when they clash with the North Queensland Cowboys in Toowoomba tomorrow night.
Coach John Cartwright yesterday threw down the gauntlet to all his 24 players involved in the trail, saying positions for the round one showdown with the Sharks were up for grabs.
“We have 24 players involved in the trial as well as (the injured) Nate Myles and Beau Fallon, so the team for round one will come out of that 26,’’ he said after the squad trained this morning in Toowoomba.
“That is why we are putting a lot of importance on the trail, there are positions up for grabs.
“There is no two points on offer, but we are placing a great deal of importance on this game as far as selections go for the first game.
“I just want to see the stuff we have been working on in the pre-season and I hope we go out there and it is mistake free.
“If anyone really puts their hand up tomorrow night they will be playing against the Sharks.”
Co-captain Greg Bird echoed those sentiments, also saying a win would be a good momentum-builder for round one.
“I am confident about tomorrow night,’’ he said.
“We don’t have many injuries, we have had a good, long pre-season, so I am confident we can come out and play the sort of football we want.
“It will be a bit disjointed with 24 players coming on and off, but if we hold the ball, concentrate on defence, like we have during the pre-season, I am confident we can come through with a win.
“But the Cowboys will be tough. We have a trial against them every year and they are always strong. They will be on a high after their Nines success and hopefully we can catch them unawares.
“We were disappointed with our performance in the Nines, but we are back to 13-a-side and I am confident that all the work we have put into the pre-season will work out.”
Both Cartwright and Bird said the squad was already on a high after the reception they had received in Toowoomba since arriving in the city on Thursday. The entire squad was involved in a fan day yesterday, which attracted about 200 people.
Today Titans players visited to the Children’s Ward and Renal Unit of the Toowoomba Hospital and they also attended Harristown State High School where they took part in an anti-bullying campaign.
“There is a real buzz about the town and since we have been here all people want to talk about is footy,” said Cartwright.
“We had a really good turn-up to yesterday’s signing session and hopefully there should be a full house tomorrow night so it will be exciting for us and the town.”
Titans backrower Mark Minichiello said the hospital visit was a part of being a professional footballer that he enjoyed the most.
“When you have some down time it is great to get out and put some smiles on people’s faces,” he said.
“It really is a great way to spend your time off.”
Tomorrow night’s game against the Cowboys kicks off at 6.30pm at Clive Berghofer Stadium, Toowoomba.