The Aquis Gold Coast Titans will send a strong team to Alice Springs to play the Parramatta Eels for the first full hit-out of the season on Saturday night.
David Shillington, Zeb Taia and Leivaha Pulu will make their debuts in the blue and gold while Nathan Friend will be playing this return match after recording his 100th game for the Titans in 2011 before heading to the Warriors for four seasons.
Triallists Cameron Cullen and Shannon Walker will also get a chance to impress in top company in the Red Centre against the Eels while Auckland Nines squad members Shane Wright, Greg Leleisiaou, Brian Kelly (all still eligible for NYC), Nathan Davis (pictured) and Jeff Lynch earned a second run in top company.
Coach Neil Henry had 11 players unavailable through injury and All Stars commitments, and has had to call on several Intrust Super Cup players to fill a 20-man squad to travel to Whangarei in New Zealand for the trial, also on Saturday night, against a Warriors squad.
“It has obviously tested our numbers with two trials on the same weekend as the All Stars clash and a few guys unavailable with mostly minor injuries,” Henry said. “But it is also a good opportunity for some players to catch the eye.
“We’ll take a strong squad of 23 to Alice Springs and it is a good opportunity for newcomers to the team to develop some combinations and for the squad to get a solid hit-out before the home trial against Souths a week later.
“We’ve had to call on some Q Cup players to go to New Zealand with Terry Matterson but it will give us a good guide of how these guys can handle the step up and show us what depth we have.”
Experienced NRL forwards Matt Robinson and David Hala will head the team heading to New Zealand.
Some familiar faces in the team heading to Whangarei are the Schwass twins, Daniel and Hayden, who were impressive for the Gold Training Titans under-20s last season, former contracted player Jamal Fogarty who has moved from the Seagulls to the Bears, former Titan Luke Page who has returned home from Canberra and this year’s NYC players Tyronne Roberts-Davis, Morgan Boyle, Jed Cartwright and Kurt Bernard.
The team to play Parramatta Eels at Alice Springs (7.30pm NT time):
Will Zillman, David Mead, Brian Kelly, Nathan Davis, Anthony Don, Daniel Mortimer, Ash Taylor, David Shillington, Nathan Friend, Agnatius Paasi, Zeb Taia, Chris McQueen, Lachlan Burr, Matt Srama, Luke Douglas, Eddy Pettybourne, Shane Wright, Jeff Lynch, Greg Leleisiuao, Leivaha Pulu, Cameron Cullen, Leva Li, Shannon Walker.
Team to play Warriors at Whangarei (7.30pm, NZ time):
Ali Grant (Tweed), Blake Anderson (Tweed), Jarrod Tua (Burleigh), Connor Broadhurst, Tyronne Roberts-Davis (NYC), Jamal Fogarty (Burleigh Heads), Sam Irwin (Tweed), Kurt Bernard (NYC), Pat Politoni (Burleigh), David Hala, Matt Robinson, Morgan Boyle (NYC), Sam Saville (Tweed), Luke Page (Burleigh), Jed Cartwright, Daniel Schwass (Burleigh), Dane Clark (Tweed), Will Bugden (Tweed), Hayden Schwass (Burleigh), Sam Meskell (Tweed).
INJURED: Kane Elgey (knee), Ryan Simpkins (hamstring), Oshae Tuiasau (knee), Kierran Moseley (ankle), Karl Lawton (back), Josh Hoffman (knee), Nathaniel Peteru (hamstring).
ALL STARS: Greg Bird, Ryan James, Tyrone Roberts, Nene Macdonald.