Titans won't go to Maloney for Bird hearing
The Titans say they will not ask Sharks five-eighth James Maloney to be their star witness when they contest the grading of a Greg Bird careless high tackle charge at the judiciary on Wednesday night.
Having successfully pled the case of Ryan James at Rugby League Central in Sydney a fortnight ago the Titans will argue Bird's case via video link from the Gold Coast without relying on testimony from Maloney.
If he is unsuccessful in having the charge downgraded Bird will miss Saturday afternoon's important clash with the Dragons at Cbus Super Stadium with injury clouds also hanging over the heads of hookers Nathan Friend and Daniel Mortimer.
Five-eighth Tyrone Roberts has not been named to return from a knee injury, opening the way for Cameron Cullen to play his first NRL game on home soil on the Gold Coast alongside Ashley Taylor.
Bird hit Maloney aggressively in the 17th minute of Cronulla's 25-20 win on Sunday and although he was unable to return to the field Maloney told reporters after the game that "you need to wear that sometimes".
Gold Coast coach Neil Henry believes they have sufficient evidence of prior grade one and grade two careless high tackle offences that any support from Maloney would not be necessary.
"I know that they had words after the game and Maloney was OK and said he thought the point of contact wasn't initially with the head but that was left at that. At the moment we haven't factored that in," Henry said.
"There's such a variation from the bottom of a grade two to the top of a grade two and the grade one is the same. We've looked at some previous grade ones and we think it's comparable to that more so than a grade two. That's up to the judiciary process."
Forced from the field on Sunday for a third concussion test in five games this season, Nathan Friend will have to pass cognitive tests this week in order to line up against the Dragons with Mortimer also suffering a nasty head cut courtesy of Ryan James's wayward elbow.
Kierran Moseley will fill in at hooker during an opposed session against the under-20s team on Wednesday evening with Henry confident Friend in particular will be right to play.
"He was stung a little bit but when he came off he said he wasn't like he was before," Henry said of Friend's recent head knocks.
"It's a precautionary thing for him but it's something that needs to be looked at for sure.
"He'll be in the same case as Daniel. He'll see how he's feeling later in the week. If he's not right Kierran Moseley could come in.
"[Mortimer] was quite lucid as soon as he had the knock and he'll go through that protocol for concussion testing.
"It will be light duties [on Wednesday] and then gradual build-up and some contact stuff. If he gets any headaches he won't be able to play which is fair enough.
"Normally with those head cuts they heal up pretty well and players play with them week in and week out."
Captain William Zillman retains his spot at fullback after an encouraging first run for 2016 on Sunday with Eddy Pettybourne added to an extended bench as cover should Bird be suspended.