Henry admits Titans could be underdone
All 16 teams want to start the 2017 Telstra Premiership with a win this weekend but Titans coach Neil Henry admits his team could go in underdone after an injury-disrupted pre-season.
Henry's team to face the Roosters at Cbus Super Stadium features all the players you would expect – outside of those with long-term injuries - but for many it will be their first hit-out of the 2017 campaign.
Centres Dan Sarginson and Konrad Hurrell have not yet taken the field due to knee injuries, Jarryd Hayne has played just two abbreviated games at the NRL Downer Auckland Nines and newly installed co-captain Kevin Proctor will be having his first run for his new club on Saturday.
Agnatius Paasi is back earlier than expected from a shoulder reconstruction and English recruit Joe Greenwood has been named on the bench despite only arriving on the Gold Coast in the early hours of Monday morning.
It's less than ideal preparation ahead of a clash with a team many are predicting to look more like the three-time minor premiers than the team that finished second last in 2016 but Henry has faith they have the fitness base needed to get through 80 minutes.
"There's always that [fear] because they haven't really trialled but they've done a lot of volume of work in rehab as well," Henry said.
"They've got enough experience between them to be able to get up for a game of footy.
"You have to name an extended squad now so we've catered for that but I expect Konrad and 'KP' (Proctor) to be right to go and Jarryd trained well as well so I expect them all to play.
"[Jarryd] didn't pull up with any issues the other day and we did contact training. We'll do a bit more [on Wednesday] as well so I don't expect him to not play that's for sure.
"There are a few nervous guys around their first game for the team and I don't see that as a bad thing at all. If we get a good healthy crowd out there I think everyone is looking forward to the first game."
English pair Sarginson and Greenwood have both been named to make their debuts for the club with Sarginson's knee injury the one causing the greatest concern.
Exciting youngster Tyronne Roberts-Davis has been named in the extended squad as cover for Sarginson with Chris McQueen another option to play in the centres should the Englishman fail to take his place in the team.
"We might have to do a shuffle in our backline if he wasn't right but again he's been doing a fair bit of running in the last week and a half," Henry said of Sarginson's availability.
"He was in today getting some treatment and he seems pretty confident that he'll be right to go.
"[Greenwood] has been playing footy and things don't change too much on the edge for edge back-rowers.
"They run their lines out there and he'll need to do a bit of defensive shuffling around with the edges as well to get his bearings around what we want to do defensively.
"If he can take the field and punch out 20-25 minutes it will be good for him."
Tyrone Roberts looks to have the hooking duties for the immediate future with Nathan Peats not expected to return from the shoulder injury he picked up in the Warriors trial until at least Round 6.
Daniel Vidot was also unavailable for selection this week due to a groin complaint.