Gold Coast have suffered another blow on the eve of Saturday’s NRL clash against the Warriors with halfback Albert Kelly ruled out.
Gold Coast fullback Will Zillman is backing the Titans’ fighting spirit to get them through a personnel crisis in Saturday’s NRL clash with the New Zealand Warriors.
The undermanned Titans, already missing five first-choice players due to injury, suspension or State of Origin duties, lost another star on Friday when halfback Albert Kelly (hamstring) was ruled out.
Kelly joins Kevin Gordon (knee), Ashley Harrison (neck), Aidan Sezer (pectoral), Nate Myles (Origin) and Greg Bird (suspended) as unavailable players for coach John Cartwright.
Maurice Blair will come into the team at five-eighth with Beau Henry shuffling into the No.7 jersey.
Zillman himself had to come through a concussion test this week before being cleared to play after being knocked out in the first half of last Friday’s 22-8 loss to Brisbane.
The 27-year-old, who will return to No.1 after two games in the centres, said the Titans can draw on their efforts against the Broncos as inspiration for the Warriors visit.
Along with Zillman, the Titans also lost Sezer inside the opening half-hour at Suncorp Stadium but held an 8-4 lead into the second half before being overrun in the game’s closing stages.
“We showed a lot of grit,” Zillman said.
“Myself and Aidan, we were both gone after 30 minutes as well as the injuries that we’d already had leading up to the game.
“To play most of the game with two guys on the bench and several others out, it really showed our character.”
Regardless, the Titans will face an opponent with a near full-strength line-up that nearly overcame competition leaders Canterbury last weekend.
The Warriors have made four changes from the starting line-up which went down 16-12 to the Bulldogs.
Ben Matulino is back in the front row with Ben Henry coming out of the centres to take his place in the back row.
Henry’s spot in the centres goes to Ngani Laumape with Kevin Locke shifted off the bench for his first start of the season on the right wing.
In-form halfback Shaun Johnson – who still needs to pass a fitness test – will be keen to expose any deficiencies in the Titans’ makeshift halves pairing, which Cartwright said is a concern going into the game.
“It does make it hard to improve your football,” Cartwright said.
“That’s where we’ve struggled a bit. We’ve been pretty consistent but as far as scoring points that’s where we’ve lacked.”