Cracked neck sidelines Harrison for six weeks
Gold Coast's injury crisis deepened further on Tuesday afternoon with confirmation that Ashley Harrison will miss a further six weeks with a neck injury after scans revealed a small crack at the base of his neck.
Harrison injured his neck, and was also concussed, in a heavy tackle late in the Round 9 clash with South Sydney and missed last Friday’s game against the Broncos.
When the soreness did not settle, he was sent for scans on Tuesday and it has shown up the crack on the spinous process. He is unlikely to return before Round 17, however the timing of the Titans’ two byes in that period has reduced the games he will miss to four, including Saturday evening's clash with the Warriors at Cbus Super Stadium.
Harrison’s place in the Titans team will again be taken by Paul Carter, the 21-year-old utility player who joined the club this season from the Bulldogs as a lock but played most of the first two rounds at hooker.
"It’s obviously disappointing, especially when we are missing a few of the other boys but I have been in the game long enough to roll with these disappointments and I have faith in the team to be in finals contention when I get back," Harrison said in a statement released by the Titans.
"The positive thing is the timing of our byes is handy and it could have been much worse."
Along with the torn pectoral injury to five-eighth Aidan Sezer, a continuing knee complaint for winger Kevin Gordon and co-captains Nate Myles (Origin) and Greg Bird (suspension) also unavailable to face the Warriors, the Titans stocks have taken a significant hit.
Having suffered a heavy knock against the Broncos last Friday William Zillman will have to pass his own concussion test later in the week before he is declared a certainty to play but Cartwright remains confident that he will take his place in the centres and captain the side against the Warriors.
"He hasn't done his concussion test as of yet, we'll leave that as late as possible," he said.
"He trained yesterday and did most of the session and he'll train [on Wednesday] and then probably Thursday he'll get a test done.
"'Zilly' showed some good sigs in the centres last week, especially defensively, but unfortunately he got knocked cold so we'll run with it this week and we'll assess it after that."
Having won six of their first eight games against the Warriors, the Titans have been on the wrong end of the scoresheet in the past six encounters, potentially costing them a place in the NRL Finals Series in both 2012 and 2013.
It's a record that has not gone unnoticed by Cartwright and he and his players are eager to register their first win against the New Zealanders since the 2010 Qualifying Final.
"We had a good run against them for a while but the last couple of years we've been really close to the eight and we've lost both games to the Warriors so you could say they have cost us big time the last two years," he said.
"They're a side that does trouble us a bit but we're aware of that. They're hard to stop. They're big and strong, they're very skilful and when they're switched on they beat most sides."