North Queensland co-captain Matt Scott believes Gold Coast are under pressure ahead of their NRL trial in Toowoomba.
If Gold Coast weren’t already feeling the pressure ahead of the 2014 NRL season, North Queensland co-captain Matt Scott ensured it ahead of what should be a lively trial in Toowoomba on Saturday night.
The Cowboys, still buzzing from their Auckland Nines triumph, have been further buoyed by the return of Scott, fellow captain Johnathan Thurston and World Cup-winning teammate Brent Tate for the Titans clash – the trio’s sole pre-season hitout.
In contrast, the Titans are again licking their wounds after crashing out of Nines finals contention on the back of a few lean NRL seasons.
Former Cowboys mentor Neil Henry was added to the Titans’ coaching staff among sweeping changes after Gold Coast failed to make the finals last year with a 10-13 tally – the fifth time in seven seasons they finished with a losing record.
The Titans have not made the top eight since the 2010 preliminary final – a fact not lost on Test prop Scott.
“They are under pressure,” he said.
“They are about due to start clicking.
“But they have the squad to do it. Their forward pack, in particular, is very strong.
“They will be a great test for us.”
However, it remains to be seen whether blockbusting forward David Taylor lines up against North Queensland.
Taylor looms as a late withdrawal as he battles a knee cork from a freak knock at the Nines.
He trained in Toowoomba on Friday morning but will only have a brief bench cameo, at best, if given the green light.
“We’re not sure how much game time he’ll get. He’s still a bit inconvenienced by the cork,” Henry told reporters.
“He’s certainly feeling it but he understands he needs to get some game time.”
Scott admitted it would be strange lining up against a side guided by former mentor Henry.
“It will be a bit weird playing against a side coached by him but I am sure he has got a few tips for them about our boys,” Scott said.
“Talking to some of their boys, he has done a fair bit to their system.”
Scott believed hooker and fullback were the spots most up for grabs at the Cowboys on Saturday night.
First choice No.1 Lachlan Coote suffered a season-ending knee injury at the Nines while Ray Thompson – back from a sickening broken jaw – will hope to stake a claim for the hooking role.
Titans halves Albert Kelly and Aidan Sezer will combine for the first time this year against the Cowboys while rookie Paul Carter will start at hooker as he pushes for a season-opening debut.