Titans attack shifts for rookie inclusion
The Titans will unveil a new-look attack against the Sharks on Saturday night in an attempt to exploit the speed of centre James Roberts and ease the transition of NRL debutant Kane Elgey into the top grade.
Elgey's inclusion at halfback comes at the expense of Daniel Mortimer who is expected to miss at least three weeks with a wrist injury suffered in the early minutes against the Knights last weekend.
Although five-eighth Aidan Sezer has played predominantly on the left edge in his four years at the Gold Coast he will shift to the right against Cronulla in order to accommodate Elgey who has played the majority of his footy also on the left.
As a result Sezer – who averaged 10 more touches per game than Mortimer in the first three rounds – will link up with the Titans' two major attacking threats on the right-hand side of the field in Roberts and Dave Taylor, an exciting prospect according to coach Neil Henry.
"We need to get the ball out to those guys at particular times and Dave will be better for that first run last week, so that could be a bit of a plan," Henry said on the eve of the clash of two teams still searching for their first win of the year.
"Aidan played a fair bit of junior footy on the right side of the field so it is a change-up for him, but he's excited too with Dave Taylor out on that side and James Roberts. He's looking forward to giving them some early ball.
"Aidan was quite OK with [the move to the right]. Kane's a left-footed kicker as well so it does change that up a little bit, we've got two left-footers out there doing most of the kicking but I'd expect Aidan will try to take a dominant role with our kicking."
It's been a rapid rise to the top grade for Elgey who graduated from the under-20s competition last year as the Holden Cup Player of the Year playing in a team that while competitive finished well down the ladder.
His focus through the pre-season has been to add some kilograms to his now 85-kilogram frame and improve his defence and captain Nate Myles is eager to see how he performs in his NRL debut.
"He's a fantastic player and for us as a playing group we need to make sure that it's an enjoyable experience. I'm very excited to see Kane play and he deserves his go," Myles said.
"He's gone back and done his time and is playing some great football so we need to make sure it's an enjoyable one for him.
"His style of football is confident but him as a kid, he's a very shy, laughing sort of humble dude so we'll enjoy to have him up there.
"Kane has been around the traps for a while now. NYC player of the year and everyone recognises that in a side that wasn't doing fantastic; for him to achieve that was definitely noticed."
Titans prop and former Shark Luke Douglas conceded earlier in the week that the prospect of earning their first win of the year will be looming large in the minds of the players from both teams but Henry believes the addition of Elgey will bring a positive response from his teammates.
"It's certainly a tough initiation. He's got an away game against Cronulla at Remondis, two sides that haven't had a win this year. It's going to be tough out there for him but I'm confident he'll handle that on that left edge," Henry said.
"His mum will be going down, there will be support around him, it's a good occasion. The boys will want to do well for him so there's a bit of motivation there and added incentive to try to get our first win of the year."