Brennan drops Hurrell, Cartwright, hands Brimson a debut

Four successive losses have prompted Garth Brennan to make his first team shake-up in his young Telstra Premiership coaching career, dropping his "favourite player" Konrad Hurrell and blooding 19-year-old five-eighth Alexander Brimson.

It is a big call for Brennan to throw Brimson into Saturday's double-header clash with Melbourne at Suncorp Stadium where he will oppose Storm star Cameron Munster. He becomes Ash Taylor's third halves partner this season behind Kane Elgey and Bryce Cartwright.

Brimson joins another teenager, 18-year-old prop Moeaki Fotuaika, who made a surprise debut in the front row off the bench against Canberra's monster pack last Saturday, in the top 17.

When asked whether pitching Brimson, who has been playing fullback for feeder team Tweed Heads Seagulls, into the cauldron of a double-header in Brisbane against a ruthless Storm side desperate to strike back after a 20-point loss to the Dragons, Brennan confessed: "In the NRL there is no easy week."

The reality is he had to act to end his team's slide. Cartwright, who has been named on the interchange bench against the Storm, has been hesitant in defence and lacking commitment to take the line on with the ball.

Brennan, who has been defending Cartwright's form and effort, admitted he had to lift his game when asked to respond to criticism from Fox Sports commentator Michael Ennis, who claimed Cartwright's defence was sub-standard and he was not taking on the line enough.

"I don't think it is unfair [Ennis' criticism]," said Brennan. "Mick is a great judge of a game and players and I don't think he is too far wrong.

Titans young gun AJ Brimson.
Titans young gun AJ Brimson. ©NRL Photos

"Bryce needs to step up, but I haven't helped him by playing him out of position. He did that [played five-eighth] for the team more so than his own personal goals and aspirations."

Hurrell again made crucial errors against the Raiders and with Dale Copley returning from injury and Brenko Lee match-fit after returning from a knee injury suffered in the trials, the hard call had to be made.

NSW hooker Nathan Peats has been chosen in the 21-man squad and will play if he can prove he is ready to return from a rib injury. Queensland Origin hopeful Jai Arrow has been rested because of a rib injury.

Brimson has been preferred to Elgey who played strongly when sent back to Tweed in the Intrust Super Cup but has had only one match with the Seagulls having a bye last weekend.

"It's a case that he gives me what I'm looking for," Brennan said of teenager Brimson. "He's a strong defender, quite solid in his build. And he's a runner, there's no doubt about that.

Titans utility Bryce Cartwright.
Titans utility Bryce Cartwright. ©Keegan Carroll/NRL Photos

"It's not ideal. It's our third halves combination this year. I knew this year was a bit of trial to see what the best way for us was going forward.

"It's exciting. He's one of our local juniors and I've held him back but I thought it was time for him to go in there and see what he can do. He's excited and when I asked him if he thought he was ready he virtually said 'what took you so long'."

Brennan made the call to give the in-form Arrow a break after the middle forward left the field distress in Canberra and was taken to hospital for tests.

Lee has had three matches for Burleigh Bears since recovering from his knee injury. He becomes the 11th player to debut for the Titans in the first nine rounds behind Arrow, Cartwright, Brimson, Fotuaika, Michael Gordon, Mitch Rein, Will Matthews, Leilani Latu, Jack Stockwell and Brendan Elliot.