Former Origin hooker Nathan Peats has been cleared to make his return for the Titans in Sunday's grudge match against the Broncos just as coach Garth Brennan believes he has finally found the best make-up of the side.
Peats has been absent since tearing his pec in the gym prior to the round three clash with the Rabbitohs, with Mitch Rein playing every minute at hooker in the 10 games since.
Brennan told NRL.com that Rein's form demands he be retained in the 17 but said that the leadership Peats provides is an area where the team has been lacking.
"Mitch Rein has been doing a really good job so it's not like I can drop Mitch Rein but Peatsy will be in the 21," Brennan confirmed.
"I'll just see how things pan out during the week, see how Jai Arrow comes through Origin and make a decision later in the week.
"Peatsy is a super competitor and he does keep the boys accountable when he's out there. We've probably lacked some leadership and the guys are a bit intimidated by Peatsy so when he gets angry they tend to react.
"Having someone out on the field when momentum is going against us, he's not afraid to say what needs to be said and do what needs to be done. The players seem to respond to that because I think they're a bit scared of him."
Prior to the round 11 clash with Manly in which the Titans came from 12-0 down to win 36-18, Brennan moved prized recruits Tyrone Peachey, Bryce Cartwright and Shannon Boyd to the bench.
The reshuffle – and the pressure associated with the announcement of a mid-season review 24 hours earlier – brought instant results.
Even in a 6-4 defeat at the hands of the Cowboys in round 12, loading his bench with impact players again appeared to have merit as the likes of Jarrod Wallace, Moe Fotuaika and Kevin Proctor laid the early foundation.
A piece of individual brilliance from Peachey almost led to a match-winning play in the final seconds and Boyd ran strongly when he came on, although a player of his standing should be contributing more than just 19 minutes of game time.
Averaging 46.9 tackles per game with a tackle efficiency rating of 93.2 per cent, Rein's defensive output combined with his speed out of dummy half provides Brennan with a selection headache as he brings Peats back into the fold.
The players seem to respond to Peatsy because I think they’re a bit scared of himGarth Brennan
Given their lowly position on the ladder and with a finals berth virtually out of reach, Brennan won't be afraid to make more changes to accommodate Peats but believes the team is beginning to find some continuity.
"We're coming along. We're just starting to get some combinations together which we haven't had so far this year," Brennan said.
Match Highlights: Titans v Cowboys
"They're starting to understand how ‘Peach' plays, starting to understand how Bryce plays and they're getting to know each other a bit better.
"That will take time but there are some good signs there anyway."
Although the south-east Queensland derby boasts plenty of feeling it has been decidedly one-way traffic in recent times with Brisbane winning eight of the past nine clashes, including three shutouts (34-0 in 2015, 54-0 in 2017 and 34-0 in round 17 last year).