David Mead will start at fullback in another new-look Gold Coast spine for Monday night's clash with the Cowboys. Copyright: Grant Trouville/NRL Photos
Coach John Cartwright insists he will always find a place for William Zillman in any Titans team he is in charge of but it won't be in his preferred position of fullback for the immediate future.
The undeniable form of David Mead in the No.1 jersey both for the Titans and last Sunday for Country Origin has forced Cartwright to select Zillman in the centres for his return from a hamstring injury with the possibility of a move into the halves before game-time.
Both Aidan Sezer (ankle) and Albert Kelly (leg) have been named to play against South Sydney on Saturday night but are rated only a 50/50 chance of playing, the side's final training session on Friday to determine their ultimate availability.
Since the retirement of Preston Campbell at the end of the 2011 season, Zillman has played just one game away from the fullback position but the displays of another pocket dynamo over the past month has him on the move again.
With lingering injury concerns over both halves as well as centres Brad Tighe and Maurice Blair, Zillman shapes as the Titans' Mr Fix-It but for now the fullback position is Mead's to call his own.
"It was a really tough decision, we're just fortunate that we've got two guys that can handle a key position in your side as well as they do'" Cartwright said.
"[Mead] has probably been there for five or six weeks now and we've won most of those games and he's gone down there and played a very strong game [for Country] and is probably in line for a NSW spot.
"It's delicate, [Zillman] has been there since Preston retired and he's done a fantastic job there. It's just the fact that a guy has come in and been given an opportunity and done everything he could possibly do to keep that job.
"There will always be a spot there in the team for William Zillman while ever I've got any say in it, and that's why he's handled it so well. He knows that it's about the team and any individual disappointment that he may have will be put aside when we go on the field on Saturday."
Despite spending the past two years as the last line of defence, Cartwright is confident that previous experience at both centre and five-eighth will hold Zillman in good stead defensively and is excited at the prospect of both players getting their hands on the ball more regularly in attack.
"It's one of his strengths," he said of Zillman's defence. "He's very solid, good technique, and he's played in the front line before. If anything it adds to what we can do with the ball in hand.
"We're fortunate that we've got two guys that can handle it but also fortunate that it allows William this week to start in the centres through a few injuries there and long-term, I like the look of it.
"They're both capable to play in various positions but as far as an attacking side, I like the look of it when they're both there somewhere."
While the form of Mead has been something of a revelation, the injuries to Sezer and Mead threaten to be a major disruption against a Rabbitohs team who have their eyes on the Titans' place in the top four.
A pending suspension for Detrimental Conduct to Beau Henry from last weekend's Intrust Super Cup game for Tweed Heads further thins out the Titans' available halves this week but Cartwright has not given hope that their first-choice pairing will take the field.
"They're both very good chances, I think they're both better than 50/50," Cartwright said. "Albert's probably the main concern.
"We were fortunate to have that week off last week – they wouldn't have played last week – but the physio's pretty confident he can get them on the paddock.
"They'll have a bit of a run around [on Wednesday] but as is usual Friday is when we will have to finalise the team. We'll run a few different combinations there [on Wednesday] but at this stage we're pretty confident they'll play.
"If William had to play in the halves it could be a good Plan B for us because you do need depth right across the park and with the salary cap unfortunately you just can't cover every position as you'd like."