The need to go into the representative weekend’s bye with momentum and two valuable competition points is a motivation far greater than any sense of revenge against Wests Tigers when the iSelect Titans travel to a wet Leichhardt Oval this afternoon.

It will be the third time the Titans have been on Channel 9 this season, the first of which was against the Tigers in round two at Cbus Super Stadium when the side recorded its worst, and most uncharacteristic, performance of 2014 with a 42-12 loss in 40 degree heat after being off the pace from the kick-off.

Two of the three players who did most of the damage for the Tigers that day, fullback James Tedesco and hooker and captain Robbie Farah, are missing but young hooker Luke Brooks remains as a key danger man.

And the conditions will be much different with cool weather and rain prevalent in Sydney today.

The Titans are also without key players with centre Maurice Blair being ruled out yesterday with a wrist injury, joining the injured Brad Tighe, William Zillman and Luke Bailey and suspended Matt White from the team that last me the Tigers.

That gives an opportunity for 24-year-old Cody Nelson to make his debut after being called into an 18-man squad that also includes Steve Michaels. Coach John Cartwright won’t announce the starting line-up until an hour before kick-off.

Irrespective of the Tigers’ loss of match-winning talent, Titans skipper Nate Myles says it is imperative that the team starts with energy. They only need Monday’s match in Penrith, where they were 12-0 behind swell before half-time, and the 16-0 early deficit against the Tigers, to remind them of the consequences for a slow start.

“Defensively we have been good and we’ve been finishing games well but we know we have to start well and get ourselves in the position to grind out a win,” said co-skipper Nate Myles.

Co-captain Greg Bird also insisted his side had to match the Tigers’ physicality and enthusiasm or they will be left behind, as they were in round two.

“They did take us by surprise a bit,” said Bird of the young Tigers side that boasts young forward tearaways like Joel Luani, Martin Taupau, Bodene Thompson, Ava Seumanufagai, Sitialeki Akauola, and the in-form Aaron Woods and Adam Blair.

“They made a public stance early in the season that they wanted to be more physical than their opponents and we have to be ready for that.”

The Titans have played only once at Leichhardt for a loss, and all matches between them are shared at six each.

The incentive for both teams is a share of the competition lead with Canterbury and Manly if they beat Canberra away. Individually there is plenty of incentive too with the City and Country sides announced this evening. The Titans have 12 NSW aligned players in the squad with Albert Kelly and Kevin Gordon (Country) and Aidan Sezer and Beau Falloon (City) candidates for selection.

The teams:

Wests Tigers

1 Kurtis Rowe
2 David Nofoaluma
3 Tim Simona
4 Chris Lawrence
5 Pat Richards
6 Braith Anasta
7 Luke Brooks
8 Aaron Woods
9 Joel Luani
10 Keith Galloway
11 Liam Fulton
12 Bodene Thompson
13 Adam Blair

Interchange
14 Martin Taupau
15 Ava Semanafagai
16 Blake Austin
17 Sitaleki Akauola

Coach: Mick Potter

 

Titans

(from)

1 David Mead
2 Kevin Gordon
4 Brad Takairangi
5 Anthony Don
6 Aidan Sezer
7 Albert Kelly
8 Luke Douglas
9 Beau Falloon
10 Nate Myles (c)
11 Greg Bird (c)
12 David Taylor 
13 Ashley Harrison
14 Mark Ioane
15 Ryan James
16 Mark Minichiello
17 Paul Carter
18 Cody Nelson

19 Steve Michaels


Coach: John Cartwright