Hayne named fullback as Mead makes way
Jarryd Hayne's anticipated return to his favoured fullback position will come this Saturday in the Titans' crucial clash with the Panthers with David Mead the unfortunate player forced to make way.
After a week off to rest a troublesome groin injury Ashley Taylor reunites with Tyrone Roberts in the halves paving the way for Hayne to move from five-eighth back to fullback, the position he played in winning two Dally M Player of the Year gongs in 2009 and 2014.
Mead's form at the back had been good enough to keep co-captain William Zillman playing Intrust Super Cup for Tweed Heads but rather than shifting back to the wing Henry has stuck solid with the club's two leading try-scorers in 2016, Nene Macdonald and Anthony Don.
When Hayne's signing was announced by the Titans three weeks ago it was unclear whether the physical demands of playing at fullback would prove a bridge too far in the short term and Titans coach Neil Henry hinted that there will be a rotation during the game to maximise Hayne's involvement.
"It's not about him doing something special every week," Henry said upon the announcement of Gold Coast's team on Tuesday.
"It's about him doing his job for the team and as we saw in the first couple of hit-outs he's still got the skill and he can produce something on the field.
"The expectation around him going back to fullback and being able to click and add more to our team might have been a bit unfair.
"It's a difficult position, he has to cover a lot more ground and his front-line defence suits us at the three-man anyway.
"We've got some flexibility about who we can put at the back during a game to alleviate any problems we might have around having that role for 80 minutes.
"It's a combination of being able to defend and then be potent with the attack and the kick returns and the extra work he'd do as a fullback.
"He knows he hasn't got the miles in his legs at the moment but they're coming back and he's gaining more confidence each week."
The likely rotation during the game would see Hayne and left centre Josh Hoffman interchange but Henry suggested that there could be some further changes later in the week, opening the door for Mead to possibly earn a late call-up.
"We're still not at 100 per cent with our squad at the moment so that's why David Mead is in the squad at 18th man," said Henry.
"It's a real hard decision for 'Meady' but we've still got a few niggles in the team so 'Meady' will be there as 18th man and we'll wait and see until later in the week.
"Meady plays well [on the wing] and Nene Macdonald and Anthony Don have been very good as well so it's a very hard decision to make.
"In our squad we've got Will Zillman playing back in the Queensland Cup so we certainly have gone from not having many players in the outside backs to having quite a few."
Sidelined for two months with a foot injury, Zillman has not played NRL since Round 15 and will play Intrust Super Cup for the third week in succession this week, with Henry very matter of fact about the prospects of the club co-captain earning an NRL recall this season.
"You'd have to say they are slim at the moment, given who we've got out there but he's ready to go if needed and time will tell," Henry said.