Titans sweat on Sezer return date
The finals prospects of the Titans are now in the hands of mathematicians and medical staff as coach John Cartwright awaits instruction as to whether Aidan Sezer will be available to play the Roosters next Monday night in Sydney.
Sezer, the Titans' first-choice five-eighth, hasn't played since rupturing his pectoral muscle against the Broncos in Round 10 but is close to receiving a recall for the clash that will either keep Gold Coast's season on life support or kill it off for good.
Prop Luke Bailey and winger David Mead made their returns from hamstring injuries on Saturday and William Zillman is expected to be fit for the Roosters but the focus of the medical team this week will revolve around their talismanic five-eighth.
Although he participated in ball-work sessions last week, Sezer is unlikely to be named in the team by Cartwright tomorrow but his progress will be monitored as to whether he can bypass a week in the Intrust Super Cup and come straight back after 12 weeks out.
"I'm not sure. We've got a big turnaround, we don't play until next Monday so I'll talk to the medical staff this week and if he's available... I don't know if he's available yet," Cartwright said in the wake of Saturday night's 28-8 loss to the Cowboys in Townsville.
"I think next week is the 12 weeks so we'll just have to see if he's available then and what we do with him."
Over the past two weeks Sezer has been schooling stand-in five-eighth Brad Takairangi on the finer points of his kicking game, an area where the Titans have been found wanting while Sezer has been sidelined.
Having taken a back seat and allowed Daniel Mortimer to control the kicking game in their first two weeks as a halves partnership, Takairangi was the more dominant kicker against the Cowboys and earned two repeat sets in the first half through kicks into the in-goal and paid tribute to the help of Sezer in bringing his kicking game up to speed.
"He can put it on a dime and his long kicking game is something that we've missed, especially with me and 'Morts' being in the halves," Takairangi, who also scored the Titans' only try of the game, told NRL.com.
"Because I'm a right-footer on the left side of the field, when the kick pressure comes from the inside they're coming at my kicking leg. I'm sweet on the right side but just little tips on the left side of the field, kicking on my bad side, just because I've got to practise stepping in and kicking off my inside foot, instead of kicking through the line. Just little pointers, he's good like that.
"Any half that jumps in there is pretty calm but I think the main thing with 'Seze' is he does direct play pretty well and definitely his kicking game.
"You can't get away with a bad kicking game these days, especially with the way we've been completing lately, but hopefully he's back next week.
"I was happy with a couple of the kicks but I've still got a bit of work to do if I'm going to play six again.
"I love playing at six, I get my hands on the ball a bit more and can do a bit more with it instead of waiting out in the centres to get it, I'm really enjoying it."
With Albert Kelly also on the sideline with a quadriceps injury, co-captain Greg Bird said the return of Sezer was integral to bringing some stability to a side that now needs to win all of their remaining five games to be any hope of sneaking into the top eight.
"It's awfully hard, losing both your halves," said Bird. "We had that good run at the start of the year with our first-choice halves and since then they've swapped and changed and that's probably been one of the determining factors of why we are where we are on the ladder. We'll definitely enjoy having some stability and that's what he brings."
Stability off the field is another talking point amongst Titans players at present with Takairangi, Luke Bailey and Mark Minichiello all trying to determine where their playing futures lie.
Takairangi denied speculation that he has agreed to join the Sharks in 2015 but is eager to make a decision in the coming weeks.
"I'm not too sure what's happening there. I know there's a bit of interest but nothing on the table or anything like that," the 25-year-old former Rooster said.
"I guess because it's getting a little bit later in the year I guess it could [play on your mind] but not too much for me. I'm just concentrating on trying to play good for the Titans and hopefully that can sort out my future sooner rather than later."