Titans want James edge switch to be permanent
Gold Coast Titans coach Garth Brennan wants to play Ryan James on the left edge but said the availability of key forwards would determine whether it happens in round one against the Canberra Raiders.
The Titans captain was outstanding against the Warriors in the 20-14 trial loss last weekend where he made numerous incisions playing outside five-eighth Kane Elgey.
Brennan said his squad for the Telstra Premiership opener was still in flux but he was keen for James to make the transition from the front row to a left-edge role.
"We just need to get him more ball and more clean ball," Brennan said.
"Every time he got it [against the Warriors] he was a handful and that is part of the reason why I have been determined to persist with him on that edge because having him on one side and KP [Kevin Proctor] coming back in round one on the right hand side you’ve got some strike on your edges."
Brennan said James could even “drift in and out” from middle to edge during a game because of his big motor.
“It will depend on personnel. I’ll have [Jai] Arrow back in round one and [Morgan] Boyle is probably a big chance of being back there in round one as well.
“If that happens then I have the flexibility of leaving Ryan James on the edge, but with Jarrod Wallace being suspended for two games and Keegan Hipgrave missing round one [with suspension] probably hurts us a little. In a perfect world, if everyone is fit and healthy, then Ryan James on an edge is very exciting.
“I’ve also got the flexibility of Bryce Cartwright being able to slot onto an edge."
Titans prop Leilani Latu said he understood why the coach wanted James out wider after playing alongside him against the Warriors.
"He started playing his footy on an edge so for him it is all building a bit of confidence and getting his groove back there," Latu told NRL.com.
"That is not to say he can't do a job for us in the middle.
"He played 75 minutes [against the Warriors] and he was still steamrolling through them and generating a lot of metres and momentum.
"Ryan was dominant on that left edge and the combination he has with Kane Elgey and the rest of the outside backs, who he does a lot of practice with, suits him playing out there in defence and attack as well."
James told NRL.com his relationship with Elgey made his move an easy transition.
"Me and Elg have worked together for years," James said.
"We went to school together, we grew up together and we know each other’s games.
"I’ve still got a bucket load to work on but I think I had a half decent game for 70 per cent of that [Warriors] match."
Latu said James' leadership in the pack was inspiring and "something we all need to take the lead from".
"There is accountability on all of us to generate a lot of metres and run hard."