Titans hopeful of Bird downgrade
It's a six-week gamble the Titans are willing to take with confirmation that they will contest the grading of Greg Bird's dangerous throw charge at the NRL judiciary on Wednesday night.
Bird was placed on report for a tackle on Kiwis winger Jason Nightingale with six minutes to play in the Anzac Test on Sunday and the Grade 2 charge handed down by the match review committee would see him miss a minimum of six weeks with loading from prior offences.
If legal representatives for the Titans can successfully argue for the downgrade Bird will miss only two games and be eligible for selection for the New South Wales team for Origin I, but if the original charge is upheld Bird won't be eligible to play until Round 19.
In stating their case the Titans will cite other Grade 1 and Grade 2 tackles and coach Neil Henry believes there is sufficient evidence to seek the downgrade.
"It is eight weeks or two weeks but we think we've got a fair case for it to be downgraded from a Grade 2 to a Grade 1," Henry told media on Tuesday.
"Looking at vision of other Grade 1s and Grade 2s and the context of who was in the tackle and how he was lifted... We understand that it was a lifting tackle and we've pled guilty but just trying to get it downgraded.
"Our defence is confident that we've got enough evidence to mount a case and hopefully we're successful."
The dangerous throw charge is the fourth such charge to be levelled at Bird in the past two years but Henry doesn't believe there is an issue with his technique, more a result of the 30-year-old's aggressive style of football.
"He's an aggressive competitor but he understands that it's part of the game now that you can't have," Henry said.
"Player welfare is utmost. He's not intending to put anyone on their head but the tackle is of an aggressive nature to put him on his back and take away his legs and he's been guilty of doing that a few times now, hence the loading.
"It's one of those things that he's remorseful about, he understands it, I don't think it's particularly a tackle technique problem, it's just the way he attacks the game.
"It's got the potential to really hurt the club and his teammates and his own representative aspirations."
The loss of Bird for Saturday's clash with Canberra has been compounded by a shoulder injury that will sideline Beau Falloon for the next two weeks, Daniel Mortimer making his return from a wrist injury on the bench.
Mortimer's absence opened the door for rookie Kane Elgey to make the halfback position his own and Mortimer is facing an uphill battle to win back the No.7 jersey.
"'Morts' will have to bide his time a little bit but he's certainly played that [dummy-half] role at his previous club at the Roosters and he's adept at playing in the middle and playing that hooker role as well.
"His utility value is going to be wanted this week given Beauy Falloon has succumbed to a shoulder problem and young Kierran [Moseley] played 70-odd minutes the other week and acquitted himself well. Daniel gives us that cover around the hooker spot and in the halves.
"He's professional and happy to be back in first grade. I thought he might have been playing for Tweed or the Burleigh Bears this weekend but he's got an opportunity to come into the team."
Davin Crampton could be in line to make his NRL debut for the Titans against the Raiders, named as 18th man as cover for any potential injuries later in the week.
Agnatius Paasi remains on the injured list with a tendon problem in his foot.