Titans ready to unleash Hurrell on Dragons
The Tongan torpedo may have been dormant for near enough to 12 months but Titans teammates are hopeful Konrad Hurrell's return to the NRL will help spark their drive to a place in the Telstra Premiership finals.
Hurrell has been named to play his second game for his new club and will line up at right centre against St George Illawarra on Friday night having recovered from a calf injury.
He lasted just 55 minutes in his one and only game for the Titans to date against the Eels in Darwin in Round 14 but makes a timely return given the serious leg injuries suffered by Nathan Davis and Karl Lawton in successive weeks.
During his time at the Warriors Hurrell scored six tries in six games against the Titans – winning every game – and now that he is fully fit it is hoped he can have a similar impact playing for Gold Coast.
David Mead has spent the past month with Hurrell in the rehab group as he worked to overcome a knee injury and is excited about what the club's latest recruit will bring in the final two months of the season.
"I can't wait to get out there and play with him, see him running over guys," said Mead, who makes his return at fullback against the Dragons.
"He used to be running over guys in our team but now he's going to be doing it for us so I'm pretty excited at that."
Coach Neil Henry said that while expectation on Hurrell's contribution can't be too great just yet, he admits that in order to make the most of his destructive runs the Titans need to work on getting him early ball in order to attack the St George Illawarra defence.
"We've got to get him the ball or he's got to find the ball," Henry said.
"It will be up to Tyrone [Roberts] on that side to get him some early ball and see what he can do.
"But we can't lump it all on Koni to fire us up. He does have a good carry but he is underdone in terms of time on the field, but he's fit and worked hard in the gym as well as his running sessions that he's had to do so I'm confident he can get the job done.
"Physically he's trained hard to get back in the team, to be fit to go. We don't have the depth there so we don't really have the opportunity to give him a game in Queensland Cup but he's played enough football to know what he needs to do and we expect him to have an impact out there.
"It's good to have some centres in the centre positions, we've had back-rowers there the last couple of games so at least we can get a bit of normality around our positions out on the edges."
Just as important as Hurrell's impact in attack will be how he defends against a Dragons left edge that will feature powerful runners in Kurt Mann and Kalifa Faifai Loa.
When Hurrell last lined up alongside Chris McQueen he accidentally knocked his own teammate out after just four minutes against Parramatta and Henry expects that edge to be tested by the St George Illawarra playmakers.
"That's the side [Gareth] Widdop likes to run down so we'll be tested there," said Henry.
"Chris McQueen is back in his traditional spot on the right edge and Zeb Taia is back on the left edge so hopefully we'll see an improved defensive performance."
The Dragons conceded 36 points in their last outing against the Sea Eagles but Henry is expecting to face a team ready to grind out a win even if points are kept to a minimum.
"The game against Manly really wasn't how they normally defend. They'll be much improved playing at home at Jubilee," said Henry.
"They're a side that don't mind getting into the grind, they're quite content that if they can get 14 or 16 points on the board they'll defend that and they have done that.
"They're not too worried about the points so we need to be patient, we need to have our completion rate pretty high and execute our attack.
"It's a crucial game – the next couple of weeks are actually in the context of our season to see if we can stay around that top eight. If we're good enough we'll be there."