Proctor's return timely for decimated Titans
The Titans may need to seek a special salary cap exemption in order to field 17 fit first-graders on Friday night with the return of Kiwi international Kevin Proctor offset by injuries to four more members of the club's top squad last weekend.
Injuries and State of Origin commitments have come at the worst possible time for the Titans who face South Sydney on Friday night needing to win at least eight of their remaining 11 games just to qualify for the finals.
Jarryd Hayne and Nathan Peats have both been called into the New South Wales for Game Two, Jarrod Wallace will either make his debut for Queensland next week or be missing due to suspension while Kane Elgey (sternum), Karl Lawton (shoulder) and Konrad Hurrell (ankle) are all outside chances of playing after going down against the Warriors last Saturday.
Tyrone Roberts is not expected to recover from a shoulder injury in time to take his place in the team so with their roster spread so thin the Titans are investigating the option of asking for a salary cap exemption so that former Shark Pat Politoni can play hooker.
AJ Brimson, who played in the Downer Auckland Nines in February, broke his hand playing for the Queensland under-20s two weeks ago and is thus unavailable for selection which could leave Ashley Taylor as the only fit half in the senior squad.
The only good news is Proctor being available after serving a club-imposed four-game suspension for allegedly being caught with an illicit substance after the mid-year Test in Canberra, an inclusion Chris McQueen believes will have a major impact on those around him.
"He's going to be a massive inclusion for us," said McQueen. "The suspension's been burning him for the last month, watching us go out there and struggle a bit, so I'm expecting a big game from him this week.
"We've still got a lot of young guys in the team that haven't got a lot of experience so it's massive to have a guy like him with 200-something first grade games, won a premiership and been playing first grade for years.
"Having that type of guy on the field for those young guys to look to and when we need something, that's invaluable."
With Hayne and Roberts unlikely to play William Zillman is in line to start at fullback for the first time in exactly 12 months.
Zillman has played two games in the Intrust Super Cup and two in the NRL after being sidelined early in the year with a calf injury and admits that Origin representatives and further injuries will be a big test of the club's depth.
"It's a bit of a double-whammy and that will be tough, if we're down four or five guys in total from Origin commitments and injuries," Zillman said.
"It's not going to be ideal but we have got the depth there this year and our 20s squad is going really well so our coaches might look there to debut a couple of guys
"It's been a bit of a theme for us for a couple of years so we know what it's all about but it never gets easier.
"We've got a lot of depth at the club this year which has helped us but we've had injuries to some key players in key positions so it's always really tough."
Thirteenth on the Telstra Premiership after the Bulldogs' win over the Dragons on Monday afternoon, the Titans have won just four of their 13 games to date and are already talking about the mathematical equations required in order to finish the year in the top eight.
"Mathematically speaking I think we've only got maybe two or three losses in us for the rest of the year. We've put ourselves in a difficult position but we're going to fight right to the death," said McQueen.
Added Zillman: "It's starting to become desperate times where we need to start winning football games and playing consistent football.
"People use the word desperate and those sorts of things at this stage of the season when you do need to win the majority of your games and we are in that position.
"If we can't be hungry now then we're never going to be hungry."