Desperate Titans ready to risk Hayne
Superstar Jarryd Hayne will be given two training sessions to prove his ankle injury is up to an assignment against defending premiers Cronulla this Saturday with Titans coach Neil Henry naming him in his 21-man squad on Tuesday.
Hayne was one of a number of surprise inclusions for the Titans who appeared to again be hit hard by injury in last Friday's clash with the Broncos. Dale Copley has been named in the centres after recovering from back spasms, Chris Grevsmuhl has been named but is in severe doubt with a groin injury with Kevin Proctor (hamstring) and Konrad Hurrell (ankle) named alongside Hayne on the extended bench.
If he is able to face the Sharks on Saturday it will be six weeks to the day since Hayne injured his ankle playing against the Knights in Round 2 with his side's dire predicament of posting just one win in seven weeks placing greater urgency on his comeback.
Given the returns of both Nathan Peats and Chris McQueen against the Broncos, the inclusion of Hayne, Proctor and Hurrell this week would give the Titans a far more dangerous-looking roster against a Cronulla team that hasn't conceded a try in 169 minutes of football.
Wednesday's session will be Hayne's first full training run with the squad since suffering the injury with Henry expecting to know more about the prospect of his star player taking the field at the completion of the session.
"He needs to get out on the field," Henry said when asked what Hayne needed to do in order to play this week.
"He's done a bit of running. On the weekend he had a field session and he's been off his legs today (Tuesday). We'll train tomorrow (Wednesday), day off Thursday and then a captain's run Friday before we leave.
"The thing will be about getting enough volume into him but if he's keen to play and gets through a ballwork session and we do a bit of contact he'll be in the team somewhere.
"We'll know a bit more tomorrow after that session."
Whether Hayne's ankle is up to the full load of 80 minutes at fullback first game back is a question Henry doesn't yet have the answer to but the form of Tyrone Roberts in Hayne's absence gives the team a fall-back option they can trust.
Due to the injury crisis that the club has endured, six players have made their NRL debuts in a Titans team this season already and Henry knows the inclusion of experienced first-graders will help to arrest their four-game losing streak.
"[Hayne] is a key player, a very experienced player and we need some experience out there," Henry admitted.
"We saw a better effort in the mid-field with 'Peatsy' back in the team against the Broncos and Chris McQueen back in and as we get players back like Kevin Proctor and Jarryd and get a bit of experience back into the team it's going to be of benefit.
"The biggest problem has been a lack of team cohesion. We really haven't had 13 players from week to week that have played together.
"Hopefully we'll start to get some of that but the season is running away from us.
"We need to turn it around and it's a big scalp to go down there and try and beat the Sharks who are in great form."
The likes of Hayne, Proctor and Hurrell are all eager to return in time for the Sharks clash but Henry is also wary of the risks associated with taking players in who are physically not yet ready for the challenge.
"The situation we're in and up against the defending premiers down there, they're quite keen to try and help out the team this weekend," Henry said.
"Konrad is quite confident because he did handle the ankle injury before and played under a bit of duress; Jarryd will need to be confident after training and a bit of contact as well but 'KP' (Proctor) is one where you have to weigh up the risk of a hamstring injury recurrence and could be out for several weeks.
"We'd love to have them play but you run the risk if you're taking three players out there in your starting 13 that are all 80 per cent.
"If two of them go down then you're in the same situation.
"They've got to feel comfortable that they can contribute and with two of those players they're 80-minute players so you need them in the backline and playing.
"We're guarded about it but if they put their hand up and they're right to go, we'll take them."