Off-contract Bailey latest Titans casualty
Foundation Titan Luke Bailey remains unsure whether next week will be his 151st and final appearance for the club after being ruled out of Sunday's clash with the Warriors with a neck injury.
In the latest blow to forward stocks already reeling due to the absence of Nate Myles, Dave Taylor, Luke Douglas, Ashley Harrison, Ryan James and Ben Ridge, Bailey will be in a race against time to be fit for the Round 26 clash with the Bulldogs at Cbus Super Stadium, a game that will farewell fellow foundation player Mark Minichiello.
Electric centre James Roberts sent a further scare through the camp when he left training prematurely on Thursday morning suffering from back spasms but he will make the trip to New Zealand and is expected to play.
In a much-needed boost to the squad David Mead returns to the side from a hamstring injury and will take Brad Takairangi's place at left centre, handed the unenviable assignment of containing Warriors wrecking-ball Konrad Hurrell. Takairangi will move into the back row.
With a decision still to be made on the Titans' head coach for 2015 and beyond, after eight seasons at the Titans Bailey's future remains very much in limbo and will not be resolved until the appointment of John Cartwright's successor.
Interim coach Neil Henry was confident that Bailey's injury would recover in time to be available for next week but with the team to fly out for New Zealand on Friday said he couldn't be risked this week.
"It's responded already to treatment but to sit on a plane for a few hours and travel and play, it's not going to be right this weekend. We're very confident he'll be right for the Bulldogs game," Henry said.
"We're a bit of a bits-and-pieces team at the moment but there's no excuse once you get out there. Bails's neck's not right, he won't play and we really are a bit light on. I think we're down to 20 or 21 players in the squad that are available to play this weekend but there's no excuse for lack of effort or lack of intensity on the field."
The Titans have already had to ask for second-tier salary cap exemptions in order for Tom Kingston to take his place in the team while fellow back-rower Cody Nelson has agreed to a two-year deal with the Eels.
Despite the lack of senior players in the squad this weekend, Henry said it was up to individuals to display greater levels of intensity than that which they showed against the Dragons last Sunday.
"It's an individual responsibility to be up for a game of footy. It's not up to someone else to motivate you," Henry said.
"There is some leadership out there in the older players, 'Birdy' (Greg Bird) as captain and 'Mini'. Aidan Sezer's getting more experience as he's going on, he should take control there with Daniel Mortimer and 'Zilly' (William Zillman) at the back has played a lot of first grade.
"We've got enough guys out there that have played enough NRL to turn up and put on a good performance.
"They're coming off back-to-back losses and they need to win to stay in the finals hunt so we know they're going to be very determined for a win at home after last weekend's performance."