Titans turn to former Roosters for guidance
The Titans have turned to two former Roosters to help engineer the upset of the season after confirming their team to head to Gosford's Central Coast Stadium on Sunday.
Having opened as $5.80 outsiders against the Roosters, the Titans have already drifted out to $6 with Sportsbet and could be as long as $7 by the time a ball is kicked as they endeavour to keep their top eight aspirations alive.
Captain Nate Myles – another former Bondi boy – has been named to return from a foot injury to play his 200th NRL game but a decision won't be made until later in the week as to whether Ryan James has recovered sufficiently from a bruised shoulder to take his place in the team.
With Aidan Sezer sidelined with a hamstring injury Daniel Mortimer has moved back into the halfback position to partner Josh Hoffman in the halves while Nene Macdonald will face the Roosters less than a fortnight after leaving the club to link with the Titans.
Having only started five games in the halves in three years at the Roosters, Mortimer moved to the Gold Coast to play halfback but after suffering a wrist injury lost his place in the halves to rookie Kane Elgey and has had to fill in at hooker over the past month.
Injuries have conspired to give Mortimer another shot at his preferred position but coach Neil Henry said all the playmaking responsibilities can't fall to one man.
"He will be [the chief playmaker] but I thought that Josh Hoffman has been doing a fair job as well," Henry said. "He carries the ball well and is getting a bit more confidence about commanding the ball so he'll need to do that as well so it doesn't all fall on Morts's shoulders.
"He's really filled in well and shown his versatility. He's been out there playing big minutes in a role in the midfield and making an enormous number of tackles and been very effective in what he has been doing as well.
"He's a versatile player that's proved his worth as a utility, that's for sure."
Macdonald turned out for the Roosters last in Round 8 against the Dragons and now eight weeks later finds himself on the opposite side of the field.
With an all-star backline entrenched at the Roosters Macdonald sought a new opportunity at the Titans and impressed many with his club debut against the Warriors, Henry confident he has addressed some defensive deficiencies that were exposed.
"I think he'll be up for the challenge," Henry said. "He hasn't had too many opportunities to play first grade down there this year and I thought he showed some nice touches for us in his first game too.
"He's working on his defence, there were a couple of times that they got through that edge but he's big and strong and he showed what he can do with a nice pass on the inside and a couple of strong carries."
Gold Coast's other mid-season recruit, Chad Redman, has been named to start at hooker and with Henry naming a five-man bench full of big forwards will be expected to play big minutes against the Roosters.
With few playmaking options at his disposal, Henry said Mortimer will be used to relieve Redman at dummy-half at various stages during the game.
"We're not expecting 80 minutes [out of Redman]. Daniel Mortimer can move from his role in the halves and we'll just have to do a bit of a shuffle there," said Henry.
"We think we can do a bit of dummy-half work out of yardage in particular with 'Meady' (David Mead) and our outside backs in there so we think we can nurse him through for probably 60 minutes.
"He's fairly fit but we'll have to be a bit creative around getting him rests in the game.
"We've got 12 or 13 players out now and we're depleted particularly around our halves and hooker spots so it's a trying time for the club.
"We're in there battling and we need to win a few games to stay in touch with the top eight and it's going to be a tough task against the Roosters."