Titans' Copley bid denied by NRL
The Titans' bid to have new recruit Dale Copley take the field against the Eels on Friday night has been rejected with the NRL not deeming the club's injury crisis an exceptional circumstance that would warrant his inclusion.
Under the new guidelines around the submission of teams in 2017 each club must name a 21-man squad on Tuesday from which the final 17 will come from, with any application for late changes at the discretion of head of football, Brian Canavan.
Despite injury concerns the Titans named William Zillman, Dan Sarginson and Karl Lawton in their 21-man squad on Tuesday and the fact that Copley was not at that point a registered player has worked against them.
Titans coach Neil Henry said on Thursday that despite being named on Tuesday Lawton's dislocated shoulder was expected to keep him out for a further three or four weeks which raises the question as to why he was named to play against Parramatta in the first place.
An NRL spokesman said the Titans did not satisfy the circumstances required for an exemption to be granted.
"The new guidelines around team lists are designed to ensure there is certainty around who is named on a Tuesday and who runs out to play," the spokesman said.
"The Titans applied to include Dale Copley in their squad late on Wednesday night.
"Whilst we have some sympathy towards the Titans and their injury problems, in this case, Dale Copley was not a registered Titans player when the team lists were announced on Tuesday and the request was declined."
The Titans' application for a special exemption was the first by an NRL team under the new guidelines and the decision to deny it shows just how seriously the NRL is taking the integrity of the teams that are announced each Tuesday.
Zillman took part in the captain's run on Thursday morning but Sarginson, Lawton, Paterika Vaivai and Eddy Pettybourne were all absent and coach Neil Henry was adamant that Sarginson was not in a position to take the field against Parramatta.
"'Sarge' (Sarginson) is struggling with that patella tendon problem," Henry said on Thursday morning.
"'Zilly' (Zillman) got through the whole training session (on Tuesday) so I would say that Sarge is going to be highly unlikely and Zilly will be playing."
Prior to Copley taking to the training field at Parkwood for the first time with his new teammates on Thursday morning Henry spoke of what he will bring to the team over the next two years and his confidence that he would be allowed to debut for the club against Parramatta.
"We really are depleted in the outside backs and his contract's been lodged and signed so we've ticked all the boxes there," Henry said.
"We'll have to have a contingency plan around them knocking it back but I can't really see a reason.
"We couldn't name him within the 21 anyway because we weren't sure if he was able to come so that was out of our hands but now he's here and we've done all the formalities around what we needed to do.
"He's a regular first-grader and he's connected to the area.
"He's a big body and he's a bit of bad luck with injuries at times and I think his best footy's ahead of him.
"He's had enough experience now, he started quite a while ago with the Broncos and I see him being an asset out on that edge."
With Sarginson highly doubtful and no outside backs named on the Titans' extended reserves bench Henry is now facing the prospect of having to move Chris McQueen to left centre for the second week in succession with either Joe Greenwood or Leivaha Pulu coming into the back row.