The iSelect Titans have five players returning to strengthen the side to play the Penrith Panthers at Cbus Super Stadium this Saturday (5.30pm), forcing coach John Cartwright to make some tough selection choices.
Co-captains Greg Bird (suspension) and Nate Myles (Origin) are back in a strong pack while in the backs Kevin Gordon (knee), Brad Takairangi (quad) and Albert Kelly (leg) return to action.
James Roberts, who has had three matches for Tweed Seagulls in the Intrust Super Cup since recovering from a fractured leg, has been included in a five-man bench – one of three former Panthers in the squad alongside Brad Tighe and five-eighth Maurice Blair.
iSelect Titans coach John Cartwright explained that he will not will not make a decision on the final line-up until match day. He explains the reasoning behind Roberts being included in the 18 but delaying his decision on whether he will make his club debut. But he is clear that back-rower Ben Ridge deserves his place in the line-up.
“Ben hasn’t played a lot this season but we think he has a lot to offer the team and is only going to get better by playing at this level … he was really strong against the Warriors; we think he has a strong future and this is an opportunity for him,” he said.
One the tough all between Blair and Beau Henry as Kelly’s halves partner, he said: “We thought Maurice showed a little more against the Warriors, he took the line on, was dangerous and gave us a repeat set when we needed it, so we thought he was the best option.”
The Titans will go into the match without an established goal-kicker but have several options and will make a decision late in the week with Maurice Blair, Brad Tighe and Greg Bird having kicked at NRL level and William Zillman and Kevin Gordon among the options.
Beau Fallon (back), Ashley Harrison (neck) and Aidan Sezer (pectoral) remain on the injured list with Falloon hoping to return the following weekend.
Watch the video below to see coach Cartwright explain some tough selection decisions. The NRL and NYC teams are listed below.