Titans left devastated by more long-term injuries
Ryan James is adamant that people don't appreciate the role Ryan Simpkins plays at the Titans and how much the team will miss him after the back-rower was confirmed to have suffered a season-ending ACL injury last Saturday against Melbourne.
Simpkins isn't the only long-term casualty of the Storm clash with outside back Dan Sarginson requiring surgery on the dislocated shoulder that he suffered, all but ruling him out for the rest of the season and the World Cup at the end of the year.
Such has been the Titans' injury toll already through 2017 the loss of two more players won't disrupt their preparation to face Manly on Saturday evening, Sarginson forced to look forlornly out the window of the gym as the rest of the team took to the field for the captain's run on Friday morning.
There has barely been a post-match press conference this season where James hasn't sung the praise of the largely unheralded Simpkins who after two knee reconstructions must now weigh up whether he plays on in 2018.
"People don't understand the work that he does around the club and on the field for us," James said.
"They probably see his name in the program and don't think much of it but he's pretty much the glue that held the forward pack together along with 'Peatsy' (Nathan Peats).
"Those two do a lot of the clean-up work and he's going to be sorely missed for the rest of this year.
"He's still undecided on his future and he'll be here for the rest of the year doing his rehab and we'll see where it goes from there.
"He's had one before and a couple of other injuries and he was carrying a couple more this year but he was just playing such great footy for us. It's just disappointing that his season ended like that, on his 50th game as well.
"He was starting to come into his own as well and I'm just extremely disappointed that he didn't get to finish the rest of the year because he's been so great for us."
With Agnatius Paasi not returning until Round 13 at the earliest Titans coach Neil Henry has promoted Leivaha Pulu to the starting team along with Dale Copley onto the wing for Sarginson, Karl Lawton and Nathaniel Peteru added to the interchange.
Prior to signing a one-year deal to remain at the Titans in the lead-up to the commencement of pre-season training last November, Simpkins seriously considered returning to his trade as a plumber before agreeing to a fifth year in the NRL.
His right knee will be significantly stronger after the operation than it has been all season but Henry says whether he plays on or not in 2018 will be a decision for Simpkins and his family.
"He's holding up OK," Henry said.
"It's difficult with these injuries, you know it's a long-term recovery so he'll get the operation and get back into rehab and I suppose make a decision about his future after that.
"When you first do these sorts of injuries you think the worst and it might be enough to hang up your boots but as you recover and get into training again you can rekindle that love of the game and the desire to compete.
"We'll leave it up to him. He's certainly been a very consistent player for us and recovered from his other injuries.
"He'll need to make a decision. That will be up to him and his family to decide later.
"That's both knees he will have had reconstructed now so he's very disappointed and so is the team for him."