Hala shapes as Titans solution
New recruit Dave Hala shapes as the major beneficiary of a reshuffled Titans forward pack after lock Ben Ridge suffered a suspected ruptured pectoral injury in Saturday night's trial win over the Warriors in Toowoomba.
Ridge will have scans on Monday to determine the extent of the injury, but if it is anything like the setback he suffered in 2013 he is looking at between three to four months on the sidelines.
With Gold Coast coach Neil Henry toying with the idea of using Ryan James as an edge forward, the loss of Ridge raises the prospect of captain Nate Myles moving from the front row to lock, opening the way for Hala to finally establish himself as an NRL regular.
His first outing for the Titans having joined from the Broncos in the off-season didn't go all according to plan with Hala needing several stitches on the inside of his mouth after copping a stray elbow from one of his teammates in the first half.
The blow effectively brought an end to the big prop forward's night but he was hopeful that he did enough to prove to his fellow Titans that he can be a valuable contributor in 2015.
"I was just trying to prove a point to the boys and to Neil that I can get the job done and it started tonight," Hala told NRL.com despite his obvious discomfort.
"I felt great out there until I obviously copped that elbow but other than that I felt fine and had a couple of good carries and a couple of good tackles.
"I just want to push out the minutes and prove to the coach that I can punch those minutes out and start for the team and if not starting, come off the bench and punch out that 20 minutes.
"I'm pretty happy for tonight but [there is] still a lot to work on."
Myles, Greg Bird, Luke Douglas and Dave Taylor are all expected to return for the Titans' final trial match against the Cowboys in Cairns on February 21 but Henry said he was pleased with what he saw from Hala with limited time in the 22-12 victory.
"I thought he had a couple of strong carries. He only knows one way to run, he just charges at it and I was pretty happy with him," Henry said.
"He was disappointed [not to come back on], he thought he'd be able to get back out there but he was bleeding a fair bit inside the mouth and was pretty uncomfortable.
"He might have a hit-out next week but you could see that he's trimmed up and his leg speed is good so hopefully he'll have a big season."
Jai Ingram, Agnatius Paasi, Damian Sironen and Leva Li were all hoping to do enough in Saturday's trial to earn full-time contracts at the Titans with Ingram and Li looking as the likely pair to get the nod.
Despite a shaky start the Titans managed to keep the Warriors scoreless in the second half and Hala said the competition for spots in the team for Round 1 is helping to bring the forward pack together as a unit.
"We're working hard for each other. On and off the field we're all good mates and we know there is only four or five spots in the team and we're just going to keep pushing each other and whoever Neil wants to select, that's who he'll go with," he said.
The Titans have a strong representation in this week's All Stars fixture with Josh Hoffman, Ryan James, Greg Bird, Kierran Moseley and Brad Tighe lining up for the Indigenous All Stars and Dave Taylor the NRL All Stars.
Bird has been troubled by knee and foot injuries in recent weeks but remains desperate to take his place in the Indigenous All Stars team.