They’ve failed to fire in attack all season but Gold Coast coach John Cartwright believes James Roberts can provide the spark for the Titans.
Gold Coast’s sputtering NRL attack may finally have its spark in young recruit James Roberts.
The highly-rated outside back, already cut loose by South Sydney and Penrith for off-field issues, will make his debut for the Titans in Monday night’s clash with Melbourne at Cbus Super Stadium as both teams look to turn around recent poor form.
Titans coach John Cartwright believes Roberts’ ability to break the line could be the key to his team finally finding some cohesion and punch with the ball in hand.
Only one team, 15th-placed Cronulla (155), have scored less points than the Titans (197) so far this season.
Cartwright’s men have only scored 20 or more points on three occasions this season, and he’s hoping 21-year-old Roberts can change their fortunes as they try to end a four-game losing streak.
“Some of his touches, not many players can do,” Cartwright said.
“His tackle breaks are very high and that’s something we’ve been lacking, someone with genuine tackle breakers and genuine speed.”
Roberts is one of several inclusions to the Titans who are missing State of Origin trio Greg Bird, Nate Myles and Dave Taylor, while Paul Carter has been suspended by the club following his midweek drink-driving charge and Albert Kelly (calf) is injured.
Ashley Harrison has been rushed back into the team following his recovery from a neck fracture, while Beau Henry comes in for Kelly at halfback.
There will also be an NRL debut for Caleb Binge following Carter’s suspension which left the Titans short on backrowers.
The Storm are also patching together a team with Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Ryan Hoffman all on Origin duty while halfback Cooper Cronk is sidelined with a broken arm.
Centre Will Chambers could play if he is released from Queensland duties early and Cartwright says he’s still wary of his opponent regardless of their absentees.
“You look at their pack and it looks like Will Chambers will play, they’ve still got four Kiwi internationals in their pack,” he said.
“We’re certainly not underestimating them. We’ve got the best possible side out there because we realise how difficult it’s going to be.
“It’s a crunch game for both clubs.”