Copley no stranger to Origin disruption

Copley no stranger to Origin disruption

As a 'baby Bronco', Dale Copley knows all about Origin interruptions.

In 2009 Copley was handed his NRL debut at fullback for the Broncos a month shy of his 18th birthday as the likes of Karmichael Hunt, Darren Lockyer, Sam Thaiday and Israel Folau were embedded in camp with the Queensland team prior to Game Two.

The result that night wasn't pretty – a 46-12 hammering at the hands of the Sharks on a Monday night in the Shire – but it gave Copley an early introduction into the notion that the NRL stops for no one.

In 2011 he scored a try in the 25-24 win by a Brisbane team captained by Alex Glenn and missing five Origin stars and 12 months later was part of the 'baby Broncos' that ran riot against the Roosters in Sydney, winning their Round 14 clash in the lead-up to Origin II 40-22.

But even Copley, who earned an NRL recall with the Roosters last year during the Origin period, hasn't seen anything like what the Titans have been forced to confront this week.

Either through injury or Origin commitments the Titans are without nine players who would ordinarily be part of their 17 and are currently weighing up whether to play Chris McQueen at five-eighth or bring in Jamal Fogarty who after being stuck in reserve grade at Parramatta all season could make his NRL debut a week after returning to the Gold Coast.

‌Despite the severity of the situation Copley knows the drill and how a team down on troops must approach a game with a host of new faces within the squad.

"It affects a lot of things but the first thing is – especially when you're dealing with a different spine – you have to strip it back a bit and simplify things," Copley said.

"That can be a good thing too because footy is a pretty simple game and sometimes we try and over-complicate it as professionals.

"We'll go in with a pretty simple game-plan to make it the new nine and six's job easier than what it probably would have been had we had our other guys there.

"Things won't change drastically – it won't be a whole new different game-plan – but we'll simplify things a bit."

With Pat Politoni named to make his Titans debut at hooker, John Olive to play his first game of the season and four other players on the extended bench yet to play in the NRL, Gold Coast's tally of players used thus far this season will reach at least 30 when they take the field against South Sydney on Friday night.

Only five teams used more than 30 players for the entire season last year and 2016 premiers Cronulla used only 24 but the injury crisis that has plagued the Titans all season has given coach Neil Henry no alternative.

While Konrad Hurrell and Anthony Don have been able to form a combination on the right side for the Titans the left side where Copley is stationed has seen a revolving door of players come and go with Copley, Daniel Vidot, Will Zillman, Dan Sarginson, Jarryd Hayne, Tyronne Roberts-Davis and Chris McQueen all playing outside five-eighth Kane Elgey.

With Elgey and Hayne both out this week the left edge will consist of either McQueen or Jamal Fogarty at five-eighth, Joe Greenwood, Copley and Olive ad with a short turnaround and rain lashing the Gold Coast all week it's left little time to form new combinations.

"There's obviously been a bit of turnover there which is not ideal but it is what it is," said Copley, who has played nine games for the Titans after a mid-season transfer from the Roosters.

"Johnny comes in and plays against his old club which is exciting and gets his first run of the year after an injury-disrupted pre-season.

"He's only been back a month or so, so he'll be really excited and be good to have him out there.

"We're hit by a short turnaround too so we losing a training day which isn't ideal but it is what it is.

"We don't have control over that so [Tuesday] was our main session and then a short run on Thursday but we'll do as much as we can and hopefully iron out any kinks in the next couple of days."