Titans determined to defy bookmakers
They are scratching around looking for fit playmakers and have opened as one of the longest-priced teams this season but Titans players insist they are not going to let their finals hopes evaporate against the Roosters on Sunday.
For just the second time in their existence the Titans will play at Central Coast Stadium at Gosford on Sunday afternoon with their only previous visit resulting in a last-minute 24-20 win over the Roosters back in 2009.
Eight players to have appeared in first grade this season are unavailable to coach Neil Henry this week with Ryan James awaiting results on an MRI scan on Monday afternoon to see if he will be ruled out with a shoulder injury.
With Aidan Sezer expected to miss at least three weeks with a torn hamstring the Titans look as though they will have to use their fourth different halves combination against the Roosters with Daniel Mortimer returning to the No.7 to partner five-eighth Josh Hoffman.
New recruit Chad Redman could be thrust into the starting hooker position after less than two weeks on the Gold Coast with under-20s rake Karl Lawton in line to make his NRL debut from the bench.
Captain Nate Myles (foot) and back-rower Ben Ridge (knee) are both in line to return to the team defeated 36-14 by the Warriors on Saturday while David Mead has been cleared of any injury after copping a knock to the jaw.
As a result of their loss to the Warriors the Titans slipped from eighth to 12th on the ladder and opened as $5.80 outsiders to knock over the team still rated by Sportsbet as the premiership favourites for 2015.
"Along with the Sharks in Round 5 – who went on to beat the Roosters – this is certainly one of the longer starting prices of the season thus far. Our traders think they could even get out to $7 by the time the game kicks off on Sunday," said Sportsbet's Christian Jantzen.
It doesn't faze the Titans, however, who have defied pundits and a horror off-season of off-field distractions to remain within reach of the top eight with 10 rounds of the regular season remaining.
"The boys here are pretty confident. Even though we lost that game last week we've just got to move forward and get back into training," said forward Eddy Pettybourne.
"I know Neil and the staff have plans for us for this week so we're just going to go out there and play tough and hopefully get the two points.
"[The injury toll] is a bit tough but at the same time whoever is going to fill in I know they are going to do their job and it will be good to see them young fellas get in and have a run.
"We've got great depth and players there that can cover those spots and it's a great opportunity for the boys to step in and have a go."
Given the decimated roster, Mark Ioane is all but certain to play his seventh game of the season on Sunday, desperate to prove he is worthy of a new contract on the Gold Coast.
While he concedes the Roosters pose one of the toughest challenges currently in the NRL, Ioane backed the 17 who will take the field on Sunday to make the 2013 premiers earn their victory.
"With the experience they've got in their team they're always doing well every week and we've just got to make sure that we're aiming up this week. If we're not at our best then that's going to hurt us," said Ioane.
"Anyone that's in the team will try to make the best out of it and I guess with the guys we have out it's a big loss for us and we've just got to make the most of it.
"We know that if we put in the effort we can get amongst the big teams in the comp and if we play to the best of our abilities we should do well."