McQueen named at five-eighth for Titans
His team's never-ending injury crisis and Origin commitments have forced Titans coach Neil Henry to name back-rower Chris McQueen at five-eighth for Friday night's clash with the Rabbitohs although former Eel Jamal Fogarty could be parachuted into the position prior to kick-off.
Halfback Ashley Taylor is the only member of the 'spine' this week to have played in a playmaking position so far this season with William Zillman named at fullback to replace Jarryd Hayne, Pat Politoni to make his club debut at hooker and McQueen named at five-eighth for the first time in his career.
While Henry joked that McQueen had played in the position in under-10s and players such as Dale Copley put their hand up – "I won an under-13s premiership at five-eighth" – the grim reality of the situation is that Henry had no one else to turn to.
That he was even able to name Fogarty in his squad of 21 was due more to good luck than good management with the former Titan returning to the Gold Coast last week after the mid-season switch of Mitchell Moses from the Wests Tigers to the Eels effectively blocked his path to the NRL.
Fogarty is believed to have returned to the Coast predominantly for family reasons but after a game with Burleigh last weekend is now in line to finally make his NRL debut should the NRL register his contract in time.
In addition to Hayne, Nathan Peats and Jarrod Wallace being unavailable due to Origin commitments, the Titans lost Kane Elgey (sternum) and Karl Lawton (shoulder) out of last week's loss to the Warriors and Tyrone Roberts remains at least a week away from making a return from a shoulder injury.
Fogarty is not expected to train with the Titans until Thursday's captain's run at the earliest but Henry is confident that he can perform if required.
"We've got him there because he's obviously been released by Parramatta and he played for Burleigh Bears on the weekend and had quite a good game in their win over the Capras," Henry said.
"He's been in the system before, come through the under-20s and back on the Coast again.
"We certainly lack a bit of depth in the halves at the moment so we thought we'd go through the process of getting him registered and if we need him we might have to call on him.
"[The process of registering a contract] has started and it can be quite a quick process. If we had to use him this Friday night we could.
"We knew he'd played on the weekend so he'd obviously been released from Parramatta and signed his termination there so that once happens it's about getting that portability where he can play from a feeder club and signing off on a bit of a contract which can happen before the game.
"We know him, we know what he can do and he's certainly a player with some ability in a key position."
In addition to Politoni being called in at hooker John Olive has been named to play his first NRL game this season on the wing, Nathaniel Peteru has been promoted to the starting team and Ben Nakubuwai, Phillip Sami and Keegan Hipgrave are also a chance of an NRL debut after being named on an extended bench.
Sitting one position above them on the Telstra Premiership ladder, the decimated Titans will face a South Sydney team missing only fullback Greg Inglis who is out for the season with a knee injury.
"We'll see what we can do with the configuration of the team but we're a little bit limited at the moment," Henry said.
"We're in that unfortunate position where [Origin] is going to impact on us and not impact too much on Souths at all.
"We've still got a solid pack of forwards there and Ash Taylor can step up and get his hands on the ball a bit more."