Henry: Cowboys can cover for Scott
On the surface the withdrawal of Matt Scott due to a broken finger represents a major boost to the Titans' chances of causing an upset against North Queensland on Saturday night but Gold Coast coach Neil Henry believes his old club has the depth necessary to cover for their co-captain.
It is somewhat ironic that the venue that Henry helped to turn into a fortress is now what stands between his Titans team qualifying for the finals for the first time in six years but he says his team won't shy away from the challenge at hand.
That challenge now doesn't involve stopping Scott from rolling through the middle of the field after the Cowboys co-captain was ruled out due to injury, Scott Bolton promoted to the starting team and Ben Hannant returning from a knee injury on the bench.
Henry coached the Cowboys in 124 games between 2009 and 2013 and doesn't believe the loss of Scott will slow the momentum of the defending premiers to a great extent.
"They'll miss him a little bit but Benny Hannant is probably due back and [John] Asiata has been playing some good footy so they've got the depth in their squad to cover," Henry said on Tuesday.
"I wouldn't say they're easier, I think they'll cope without him. Certainly his go forward is fantastic and he's an experienced player and the co-captain but they've got the depth there and they've found a bit of form the last couple of weeks.
"They will miss him because of what he brings but I think they've got plenty of depth in their squad."
Henry himself named an unchanged team to that which lost by a point to the Panthers last weekend with David Shillington joining 18th man David Mead on an extended bench.
All 19 players will travel to Townsville on Thursday a day earlier than normal with no concerns over the fitness of fullback Jarryd Hayne and half Ashley Taylor.
Taylor will be on restricted duties for Wednesday's main session and Henry acknowledges that the combination between his three playmakers is integral to extending their season into September.
"Jarryd's fine, he's a lot better this week than he was before the game and he pulled up fine after the game," Henry confirmed.
"I think we need to get our combinations a bit better organised. Our halves have only been together once in the last month of footy so getting them together at training is going to be important for us."
With the Cowboys 35-6 from their past 41 games at home getting off to a better start than they did against the Panthers is also an area of focus for the Titans.
Barely in the game as Penrith opened up a 14-0 half-time advantage, Henry said they will be punished by the defending champs if they are slow out of the blocks again.
"We need to start better," Henry said. "There's no doubt we were off the pace in the first 20 minutes of the game last weekend so if we can find that energy that we started the second half with and replicate that, we'll certainly give them a good run up there.
"This team will start well, they'll be in the game straight up so we won't get any latitude there against a quality side. It's a real positive challenge for our boys and we've been competitive all year.
"We've certainly got the team that can worry them."