Titans co-captain Jamal Fogarty is expected to be cleared to face a decimated Newcastle with reigning club champion Brian Kelly given the green light to make his comeback from a broken hand.
Kelly’s return in the centres is the only change to the Titans side that lost 20-4 to Canberra last week, replacing injured veteran Anthony Don (hip) with Phil Sami shifted out to the wing for Saturday's Cbus Stadium showdown.
Fogarty suffered a corked thigh in the defeat but will be given until game day to prove his fitness, while Ash Taylor (broken hand) was named on an extended bench but is tipped to be held back another week if the club captain can run freely by the weekend.
"I was with Jamal yesterday, he was in the ice bath doing his recovery and physio. He’s giving himself every opportunity to play," Titans prop Jarrod Wallace said.
"The coach will probably give him right up until game time to make sure he is all right.
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"I’m pretty sure it was just a cork and he’s carrying on a bit."
Kelly’s comeback is a huge boost to the Titans as they return home after having last week’s clash with the Raiders moved to Sydney due to the COVID crisis in Queensland.
He won the Titans’ player of the year award in 2020 and while Sami has been outstanding in his place for the past three weeks, the 24-year-old will comfortably slot back into the team with Origin winger Sami moving out to his usual spot.
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"He was our player of the year last year and is one of our most experienced, best players and a strike weapon on the edge," Wallace said.
"Phil Sami has been a real standout for me the last two-three weeks. Centre is not his main position but he’s been chucked in the deep end and been one of the better players.
"For Brian to come back in and take that spot… it’s going to be a tough one to cop because he’s played so well."
Newcastle have their own injury concerns, headlined by the 10-week torn pec muscle to half Mitchell Pearce while fullback Tex Hoy (hamstring), utility Kurt Mann (head knock) and prop Jacob Saifiti (suspension) have been ruled out with the Knights struggling to name 21 healthy players from their top 30 squad.
Fullback Kalyn Ponga is the big addition for Newcastle with the Queensland Origin star to return from offseason shoulder surgery and the Titans will be on high alert knowing just how threatening he can be despite his long absence with injury.
"He is a massive threat coming back," Wallace said.
"He brings a lot of strike power, attack and confidence for them. Our game doesn’t change at all. We focus on ourselves and play the footy we want to. Whoever they’ve got, we will be ready for them."