Titans coach Justin Holbrook has praised Tino Fa’asuamaleaui’s future captaincy credentials believing the young front-rower could’ve swung the result of their past two losses.
Fa’asuamaleaui will return from a two-week shoulder charge suspension against Wests Tigers at Campbelltown on Saturday, a match in which the Titans have been forced into a fly-in, fly-out mission due to Sydney’s latest COVID scare.
The 21-year-old missed the 40-30 defeat to South Sydney and last week’s 36-28 loss to Brisbane, where the Titans led early but were gunned down as their defence fell to pieces.
Holbrook said Fa’asuamaleaui would’ve made a huge difference to his team in both those defeats and agreed with former Queensland captain Gorden Tallis who claimed the former Melbourne star was a future captain.
"Oh definitely, for a young guy he has only just turned 21 and he sets some unbelievable standards and it’s not just for himself but everyone around him," Holbrook said.
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"As coaches and as people in the game you don’t want to put expectations on guys but he can handle it there is no issue with the way he is going.
“You throw Tino on the field we probably win both those weeks then we’re not under as much scrutiny but that’s footy."
Holbrook said he had yet to settle on his bench for the Tigers clash, with Ash Taylor (hip) already ruled out and replaced at five-eighth by Tanah Boyd.
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Former Cowboys centre Esan Marsters was named in the 21-man squad and remains a chance to play after moving to from Townsville earlier this week.
Taylor has struggled in his comeback from offseason surgery to both hips, with Holbrook wanting the off-contract playmaker to take time out to get his body back to full fitness before ushering him back into any football.
"He is still battling with his hips. He just couldn’t get through training properly the other day so it’s just a case of, he just has to get himself right and we need to make that happen as well," Holbrook said.
"When he is at his best we’re a better team but at the minute he is battling through.
"To his credit, he is sticking his hand up every week to play but he just can’t quite do what he wants to do and we just have to get him right."
Boyd will get first chance to secure a position in the halves while Taylor is out and Holbrook expects the 20-year-old to seamlessly slot into the spine.
"I’m sure he is looking forward to playing, he is an energetic guy that loves his footy so he will do a good job for us," he said.
"He has already played two games for us this year in the halves and had a full preseason with us so there is no issue there and we look forward to it."
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