Taia's mental struggle with centre shift
Titans back-rower Zeb Taia has told NRL.com that he struggled mentally with the shift into the centres midway through the first half against Canberra and feels responsible for the two tries Jarrod Croker scored in the space of 12 minutes on Sunday.
With Chris McQueen already shifted to right centre after the withdrawal of William Zillman on match eve with a foot injury, the Titans were stretched even further when Nathan Davis suffered a dislocated ankle midway through the first half.
When Davis left the field Taia moved from the left edge to right centre and the Raiders attacked that side of the field at every opportunity, Croker scoring two tries and kicking five goals for a personal tally of 18 points in his side's 30-22 victory.
From the set after Davis's departure Canberra scored when Croker leapt high above Taia and winger Anthony Don to snatch an Aidan Sezer bomb and crossed again six minutes from half-time when he stepped past Taia's inside shoulder off a Jack Wighton pass to score beside the posts.
Taia's four missed tackles took him to a team high of 47 for the season and he conceded that doubts about his ability to play in the centres contributed to his misses in the first half particularly.
"The main thing about switching positions is that you've got to get your mind around that real quickly and obviously in that first half I didn't really do it," Taia said.
"Coming up against a class centre like Croker, you've got that in the back of your head and if you have those kinds of doubts it's going to creep up on you. That's probably what happened in that little 10-minute stint that I had in the first half.
"It's a tough one but more comfortable in the back row that's for sure."
Gold Coast coach Neil Henry refused to use the backline reshuffle as an excuse for the total of 28 missed tackles in the game, saying that the players on the field were guilty of some basic defensive errors.
"We still should solve it. We got numbers wrong one time and we shoot up one time and leave space… it is stuff that we can handle so to get through with those clean breaks is pretty disappointing, regardless of who is defending there," Henry said.
"We had back-rowers out in the centres which made it difficult but still, there's a job to do and we missed too many tackles.
"You've got to deal with what you're dealt sometimes. We lost two players, Eddy Pettybourne got the head knock and he hadn't been out there that long and Ryan James got rattled up so we end up being quite small out there.
"We've got a bit of fight in us but realistically we're disappointed in some of those defensive efforts for some of those tries."
When Taia left the NRL at the end of the 2012 season to link with Catalans in the Super League he was often named in the centres but said there were only a handful of times when he actually played in that position.
"I did go over there and wear the No.4 the first year but I was a back-rower," said the 31-year-old.
"Everyone thinks I was playing centres over there but I wasn't, I was mainly a back-rower.
"Coming out of the second half [against the Raiders], I was pretty happy with the way things went. Bit unlucky with the intercept pass with Brenko Lee going all the way but I had my head around playing centre."