Henry unlikely to rush back suspended stars
Gold Coast Titans coach Neil Henry has hinted that late changes could be made to the Round 1 team to face the Wests Tigers on Saturday night should players currently facing drugs charges be cleared to play.
Greg Bird, David Taylor and Beau Falloon would all have been automatic selections in Henry's team for the season-opener but have been stood down from all club activities until they have their day in court over the next week. Matthew White (hamstring), David Hala (knee) and Ben Ridge (pec) are also unavailable due to injury.
Falloon will appear in Southport Magistrates Court on Thursday with Bird and Taylor appearing on Monday, Henry forced to name six club debutants in their place to take on the Tigers.
All players would need clearance from the NRL before resuming their playing duties and Henry doesn't expect to have them at his disposal until Round 2 at the earliest.
"You'd think it would be too late by then anyway. He's overcoming a hamstring injury himself and he'll be underdone. He hasn't played so he would be very doubtful," Henry said of the possibility of drafting Falloon into the squad.
"Time will tell whether anyone else is available in the meantime but I'd have to say the guys will hopefully be available for Round 2.
"I've seen the players a few times and they want to be available for selection but the timeframe is getting fairly tight for that with only a couple of sessions to go before we play.
"It could be a slight possibility if things happen before the weekend but I wouldn't hold my breath on it.
"We just need to get on with our preparation with the selected team and if something else happens then that might become a bonus to us later in the week. It's between the lawyers and the NRL to come to a decision."
The omission of Falloon opens the door for former Panther Kierran Moseley to start in an NRL game for the first time, going head-to-head with veteran Tigers skipper Robbie Farah in the middle of the scrum.
Moseley was very much considered a work in progress by Henry throughout the pre-season but said his performances in the trials – in particular his display for the Indigenous All Stars – convinced him that he is up to the task of the starting hooker role.
"He seemed to step up to the plate," Henry said of his final hit-out against the Cowboys in Cairns.
"Defensively I thought he was quite strong against a pretty big pack and that's an area he really needed to improve.
"He does offer a point of difference with his attack. He's quite skilful around the ruck and is quite dangerous when he runs. I thought he handled himself quite well in the All Stars game as well.
"He played plenty of games underneath Kevin Kingston at Penrith last year and plying his trade there under a professional but it is a big jump for Kierran. He's been good at training and between him and Matt Srama they'll alternate the role there."
The other players who will pull on the Titans jersey for the first time are Josh Hoffman, Eddy Pettybourne, Matt Robinson, Agnatius Paasi and Lachlan Burr, the latter two with only a solitary NRL game each to their names.
Given the disrupted nature of their build-up over the past month, Henry said he will lean on those players with more experience to be the calming influence in the moments before the team takes the field at Cbus Super Stadium.
"[Getting over-excited] is always a chance with guys coming in who haven't had much experience in first grade but we've got a fair amount of experience in the team," Henry said.
"There's a lot to like about the experience we do have in our team and they'll need to step up and be the calming influence on the younger boys coming in.
"One thing you do get with young players who haven't played much first grade is a lot of enthusiasm so we'll be banking on that as well."