Idris, Champion back for Titans
BRISBANE, June 19 AAP – The likely return of star signings Jamal Idris and Beau Champion will only add to the Gold Coast Titans’ self proclaimed top four chances – much to coach John Cartwright’s annoyance.
Last year’s NRL wooden spooners are suddenly flying high with four wins in their last five games ahead of Friday night’s clash with the Dragons at Wollongong.
And with Idris and Champion expected to overcome ankle complaints and combine in the Titans centres, the hype is only going to get louder.
And that’s a problem, according to Cartwright.
The Titans mentor did not hide his unhappiness over the media jumping on a quote from young rake Matt Srama last weekend that talked the Gold Coast up as a top four chance.
Cartwright said he simply wanted the Titans (10th; 6-8 record) to maintain their momentum, not work out their finals chances.
“I think they (media) got a hold of a few of the younger blokes – if the senior blokes had of been asked (about finals) they would have shut that one down pretty quick,” he said.
“As soon as you start talking about that you lose focus on where you are – that’s not a cliche, that’s fact.
“If we win the majority of our games from now until the end of the year we will be there.”
Cartwright said he would not know whether Idris and Champion were playing until Thursday.
Idris missed last weekend’s 36-18 win over Penrith while Champion went down in the same match.
Queensland forward Nate Myles slots in for NSW’s Greg Bird in the Titans backrow and Matt White moves to the front row.
North Queensland will also need to reshuffle their pack for Saturday night’s home clash with Canberra, with the suspended Ashton Sims expected to be replaced by either Cory Paterson or Scott Bolton.
Cowboys coach Neil Henry denied Sims was a “serial offender” at the judiciary but did sound a warning to the aggressive prop.
“He plays a hard physical game, he has to in the front row (but) he needs to make sure he is more disciplined in his defence,” he said.
“He needs to be more mindful of what is best for the team.”
Canberra will welcome back Queensland forward David Shillington and keep Josh Dugan at five-eighth, ensuring he lines up against Test pivot Johnathan Thurston.
“The team has to worry about Thurston, Duges needs to worry about Duges,” Raiders coach David Furner said of Dugan.
Reacting to yet another loss, Panthers coach Ivan Cleary named an 18-man squad for Saturday night’s home clash with the Eels with Josh Mansour and Geoff Daniela in the backline for Sandor Earl and Brad Tighe respectively with NSW’s Luke Lewis back at lock.
Suspended Eel Reni Maitua has been replaced by Taniela Lasalo in their only change.
Bulldogs’ Luke MacDougall (elbow) is set to return in a 19-strong squad for Sunday’s historic clash against Melbourne in Mackay, north Queensland.
And Newcastle will welcome back Queensland’s Darius Boyd and NSW’s Akuila Uate for Monday night’s home showdown with the Wests Tigers.
While both Sam Perrett and Anthony Mitchell have been named in the Roosters line-up to meet Manly despite reports they had requested immediate releases from the club to join the Bulldogs and North Queensland respectively.
19 Jun 9:02 PM