Titans to seek exemption for Copley debut
Dale Copley has arrived on the Gold Coast ready to make his Titans debut against the Eels on Friday night but his inclusion will be subject to the new guidelines around team selections implemented by the NRL this season.
Some three months in the making, Copley's release from the Roosters to join the Titans was expedited this week after the Titans' injury crisis worsened when Jarryd Hayne, Anthony Don and Karl Lawton all suffered serious injuries against the Knights last weekend.
With space on their roster for an outside back, the Titans had been keeping tabs on Copley but were unable to agree to his release terms with the Roosters until this week, the 25-year-old arriving on the Gold Coast Wednesday afternoon eager to make an immediate impact.
The new guidelines around team lists in 2017 stipulate that if a team wishes to bring in a player not named in the original 21-man squad on Tuesday they must apply for an exemption which will be evaluated by the NRL's head of football, Brian Canavan, on a case-by-case basis.
Given Copley was not a member of the Titans' playing group on Tuesday and with lingering injury concerns hanging over William Zillman (calf), Dan Sarginson (knee) and Karl Lawton (dislocated shoulder), the Titans will submit an application for Copley's inclusion on Thursday morning confident he will be given the go-ahead.
Copley will meet his new teammates for the first time on Thursday morning at the captain's run and hopes to not only earn a start as soon as possible but cement a place in the team long term.
"I've played a couple of games in NSW Cup so far but looking forward to hopefully getting a jersey on Friday night or certainly pretty soon and hopefully making a jersey my own," Copley told Titans TV.
"Short-term goals are probably the way to go at the moment considering everything has happened so quickly and it's all pretty new and then I've got to get to know the teammates pretty quickly.
"I don't have the luxury of having a pre-season with these guys so I just want to play well in the short term and fit in at the club as best I can."
Copley made his NRL debut for the Broncos in 2009 and played 72 games for the club before joining the Roosters last year where he played 14 games in the top grade.
After being granted the release by the Roosters he signed a contract with the Titans taking him through until the end of the 2018 season and after an injury-plagued career himself is hoping to help the Titans turn things around after starting the season with two consecutive losses.
"With the last couple of weeks it's been a pretty horrific toll, probably nothing I've seen in my time following football," Copley said of Gold Coast's injury list.
"It's pretty unprecedented how many injuries have been at this club so it's on the shoulders of the players that are named each week to pick up the slack and get the win. Hopefully I can contribute to that.
"It's a pretty young and exciting group as a whole and I'm just looking forward to being a part of the whole group and hopefully I can contribute to some success this year."