Recruit from South Sydney John Olive, who only arrived at the club days ago, will be a late addition to the Aquis Titans side to take on Newcastle Knights tomorrow after the withdrawal of fullback William Zillman because of a calf injury.
The 19-year-old(pictured) will play on the left wing with David Mead switching to fullback where he has had plenty of experience.
Olive, who had been signed for the 2017-18 seasons, was released by the Rabbitohs to join the cub a season early. He played in the NSW under-20s State of Origin team alongside Titan Brian Kelly last season and made his one NRL appearance for the Rabbitohs against Wests Tigers in round 14.
That brings the tally to eight players who are in tomorrow’s squad who were not at the club in 2015 in Olive, fellow NRL debutants Nathan Davis and Leivaha Pulu, halves Tyrone Roberts and Ash Taylor, back-rowers Zeb Taia and Chris McQueen and hooker and captain Nathan Friend.
“It’s been a whirlwind for him but I’m confident he will do the job,” said coach Neil Henry. “He’s played the Auckland Nines and both of Souths’ trials and is injury free and had a full off-season, and he knew some of the players before he got here.
“I’m happy with our recruitment in that we have brought in good experienced NRL players in Nathan Friend, David Shillington, Zeb Taia, Tyrone Roberts and Chris McQueen but also some young players wanting to establish themselves in the NRL in Ash Taylor, Nathan Davis, Leivaha Pulu and John.
“We have some changes in key positions. Nathan Friend is back after four seasons with the Warriors and our halves are new in Tyrone Roberts and Ash Taylor are new, so there are three of our ‘spine’ who will need to develop their combination.
“There is naturally a bit of pressure on the halves, they’ll have to steer the team around, but we need to have a bit of patience with their combination too.
“Tyrone is up around 100 games, while Ash played 20-odd minutes for the Broncos last year and didn’t look out of place and he’s gained some confidence through some regular training with Tyrone. Hopefully that leads to a bit of chemistry on the field but we need to have patience and remember Ash is fresh out of 20s and it will take a bit of time.
“Our forwards needs to step up; we have experience in the pack and a bit of inexperience in the backs, so it’s up to the forwards to lay a platform and make their job easier.”
Kick-off is 5.30pm with the under-20s starting at 3.15pm.
Aquis Titans: Mead, Olive, Hoffman, Davis, Don, Roberts, Taylor, Shillington, Friend (capt), Paasi, Taia, McQueen, Bird. Interchange: Pettybourne, James, Pulu, Mortimer.
Knights: Feeney, Chanel Mata’utia, Gagai, Pat Mata’utia, Uate, Mullen, Hodkinson (c), Snowden, Randell, Mataora, Jacob Saifiti, Rochow, Smith (c). Interchange: Bhana, Korbin Sims, Pauli, Daniel Saifiti. Fitzgibbon, Ross.