Titans' fullback auditions on hold
It now appears to be a race in two but William Zillman and Josh Hoffman will have a three-week wait before either is confirmed as the Titans' first-choice fullback for 2015.
Both Zillman and Hoffman performed strongly in a Titans team at the Auckland Nines that waited until day two before unleashing their speed men, their 38 points in their clash with the Raiders on Sunday the most points by any team in a single game all weekend.
Hoffman scored the final try of the Titans' Nines campaign with a scything run through the Raiders defence but he won't get to press his claims for the No.1 jersey until Gold Coast play their final trial of the pre-season against the Cowboys in Cairns on February 21.
Neither Hoffman nor Zillman will play in this Saturday night's trial against the Warriors in Toowoomba and with David Mead suffering a foot injury in Auckland the custodial duties will be shared between Kevin Gordon and Anthony Don.
Hoffman will line up on the wing for the Indigenous All Stars on February 13 and Titans coach Neil Henry confirmed that Hoffman and Zillman will be given 40 minutes each at the back against the Cowboys to press their claim with a spot in the centres the consolation prize for the unsuccessful candidate.
"We've had 'Zilly' and 'Hoffy' training in the centres, alternating between fullback and centre," Henry said upon the team's arrival back to the Gold Coast. "They're the main two with 'Meady' on the wing.
"We'll probably look at that rotation in the trial against the Cowboys and we'll make a decision after that."
The main injury concern for the Titans out of the weekend is a possible facial fracture to five-eighth Aidan Sezer that will put him in doubt for the final trial in two weeks' time.
Sezer will have scans on Tuesday to confirm the extent of the injury but Henry doesn't believe it will impact the preparations of his first-choice halves even if Sezer is ruled out until Round 1.
"The doc seems to think he might have a small fracture there and that's a two-week thing so he could be right for the final trial against the Cowboys in Cairns," Henry said.
"'Morts' (Daniel Mortimer) and Aidan have played a few games together now so they'll be right, it's more about looking at our forward pack, guys like Dave Hala and Eddy Pettybourne who are in the mix for the front row spots.
"We still have to settle on a centre as well. Brad Tighe was tidy over there and Anthony Don had a bit of a run there so again we'll have to sort that out and we'll see those guys playing against the Warriors in Toowoomba."
Henry won't name his team for the trial until Wednesday with Kierran Moseley the only player committed to the All Stars game on February 13 likely to take the field against the Warriors.
Instead it will be a chance for young halves Kane Elgey, Jamal Fogarty and Christian Hazard to prove they are NRL ready and a plethora of big men to impress in the absence of NRL regulars such as Nate Myles, Greg Bird, Luke Douglas and Dave Taylor.
"It will give Agnatius Paasi an opportunity to play, 'Sirro' (Damian Sironen), and if Dave Hala is right to get 20-30 minutes under his belt and Eddy Pettybourne, although he's been a bit injured," Henry said of his likely squad.
"Jamal Fogarty and Kane Elgey will play in the halves along with Christian Hazard. Matt Srama, if he's right, will have a run at hooker, we'll probably save Beauy Falloon until the last trial and Kierran Moseley will probably have another run."