Return of Peats a timely boost for Titans
Conceding they have missed his direction around the middle of the ruck, Titans players are hoping the return of hooker Nathan Peats can get their season back on track ahead of their daunting Good Friday assignment against the Broncos on Friday night.
Returning to the scene of their 2016 finals exit for the first time, the Titans welcome Peats back into the fold for the first time this season after he suffered a shoulder injury in the trial game against the Warriors with Chris McQueen also named to face the Broncos after missing last week's loss to the Raiders with a back injury.
Fullback Tyrone Roberts has been cleared of a suspected broken toe and broken finger while English pair Dan Sarginson and Joe Greenwood have both been named on an extended bench as the Titans get back somewhere near their strongest squad possible.
Coach Neil Henry indicated that players who are under an injury cloud will be given as late as game day before a decision is made on their availability but there appears little doubt that Peats will be fit to play his first premiership game of 2017.
In addition to his defensive workload, Peats will bring some much needed direction and help to alleviate some of the pressure that has been falling on the shoulders of young halves Kane Elgey and Ash Taylor.
"He's mature in the game and we needed that one guy in the middle who just controls where we need to go," said centre Konrad Hurrell, who was one of only three Titans not to take to the training paddock on Tuesday.
"If we have him back he's pretty aggressive with his decisions and he'll control the team and control what we need to focus on.
"That's what we've been lacking in the game at the moment, going everywhere and not really focusing on the structure. If he's in there he'll help a lot."
Taylor's 28th game in the NRL last week was well down on the high standard he has set in a short space of time and Henry has no doubt the inclusion of Peats will free up Taylor against his former club.
"If we look at his game management I think you'll find that he'll complement our halves, Ash and Kane, who have had a fair bit of pressure on them to do everything," Henry said. "Hopefully that's what happens.
"He can build his sets, he's a smart footballer and he's an experienced hooker.
"Karl [Lawton] has only had a handful of games and so he's probably more dynamic and going to take the line on and 'Peatsy' can get us around the park.
"The ability to have Peatsy there and Karl off the bench gives us another point of attack."
Lawton worked closely with Peats throughout the pre-season to develop his skills in the dummy-half role and believes the team will take a lot of confidence from having Peats back out on the field.
"He's a leader and one of the older heads so it helps to control things a bit more and I think the halves and some of the forwards will like to have him back," Lawton said.
While the casualty ward looks decidedly less populated than it did a few days ago, Henry conceded that there a number of players in the 21-man squad named on Tuesday who are in some doubt on the six-day turnaround.
"There will be still some players who we will be making decisions on right up until game day," Henry said.
"There will be some players that mightn't even do the captain's run, we might just see how they go on game day, how they're feeling.
"We are still pretty light on in a couple of positions so it's a bit of a wait and see."