The Cowboys started well in last week's road meeting with the Bulldogs and were in control for most of the first half before being out-played over the final 50 minutes.
Coach Paul Green reacted by saying his team's low standing on the NRL ladder would cost players Origin jerseys and it's hard to disagree.
The Cowboys have a strong forward pack but question marks remain over the entire backline, barring Michael Morgan.
The Titans were well on the way to a third straight win when they raced to a 14-0 lead over the Tigers last week before falling asleep and being overrun 30-14, failing to score a point after Michael Gordon's 19th-minute penalty goal.
Cowboys: Jason Taumalolo will return from the knee injury he suffered in round two and start the match. After being named at five-eighth on Tuesday, Jake Clifford has been left out, with John Asiata moving into five-eighth. Clifford and Mitchell Dunn were the two players left out an hour before game time. Corey Jensen and Gideon Gela-Mosby were omitted 24 hours before kick-off. The Cowboys have won their past seven games against the Titans.
Titans: The Titans will start 1-17 after Jai Whitbread and Jack Stockwell were left out an hour before kick-off. AJ Brimson, Moeaki Fotuaika and Keegan Hipgrave have all been passed fit to play the Cowboys. Brian Kelly (nose) and Jai Arrow (knee) copped blows at training but will play. Will Matthews and Jesse Arthars dropped off the extended bench on Thursday evening. Titans winger Anthony Don has scored a try in his past five games.
Morgan should have an edge in his duel with Tyrone Roberts but it certainly won't guarantee a win. Roberts has more help around him in the backs than Morgan and needs to spread the ball quickly to the likes of Brian Kelly, Tyrone Peachey and Anthony Don. Morgan will be counting on rookie Jake Clifford to share some of the load.
For the Cowboys to win
As mentioned the backs have to step up and take greater responsibility or the Cowboys' season will soon be kaput. Morgan can't do it by himself, while the forwards also have to live up to their reputation as one of the toughest packs around. The Cowboys need to make more line breaks than the solitary break they made against the Bulldogs.
For the Titans to win
They have to put last week's collapse in the rear view mirror and set an aggressive tone in the opening 10 minutes on Friday. Ash Taylor and Tyrone Roberts need to spearhead the offence, while the Titans must work hard as a team to improve their standing as one of the competition's worst defensive teams.
Brett Kimmorley says
What is going on the with the Cowboys? Paul Green made a comment last week saying his players were playing their way out of Origin contention. I think the coach needs to coach them back into Origin form. To me that doesn’t look like a “we’re all in this together” attitude. The Titans led so well last week and then got blown off the park. Can the Titans bounce back? Titans by 6
The Cowboys completed at a very tidy 82% in the 24-12 loss to the Dogs. The only problem was the Doggies completed 86%. Josh McGuire made 70 post contact metres to take his tally to 452 for the season - tops in the NRL. Morgan has kicked an NRL-leading three 40/20 kicks.
And another thing ...
Good as he is, Michael Morgan was facing the prospect of being named on the bench for the Maroons in this year's Origin series. Cameron Munster appears locked in for the No.6 jersey and Daly Cherry-Evans was the popular pick for the halfback and captaincy role. But with DCE racing the clock after injuring his ankle, Morgan now seems certain to start alongside Munster in the halves for game one on June 5 at Suncorp Stadium.