Gold Coast recruit Maurice Blair has paid the price for the Titans’ weak right-side defence after being dumped for Sunday’s NRL trip to Canberra.
Blair started both of the Titans matches this season following his move from Melbourne but has been omitted in favour of Brad Takairangi in the wake of last weekend’s 42-12 hiding by Wests Tigers.
The 29-year-old will head to Queensland Cup action for the Tweed Head Seagulls after being left out of the Titans’ line-up by coach John Cartwright on Tuesday.
“We’ve leaked line breaks and points down that side of the field,” Cartwright said.
“It was a very tight decision to kick the season off, who would get that right centre spot. Taka’s gone back to Burleigh and taken his medicine and it’s probably a good time to bring him back in.”
Blair is the only axing following the heavy loss to the Tigers, which was the Titans’ worst defeat at home in their history, but injury concerns could force further changes.
While co-captain Greg Bird has recovered from the “burner” injury he suffered in his left shoulder late against the Tigers, five-eighth Aidan Sezer (quad) and hooker Beau Falloon (knee) are both in doubt.
Cartwright admitted he was yet to work out how he would replace the pair if they are ruled out, with fellow hookers Matt Srama and Sam Irwin already unavailable and little options to fill in for Sezer.
“We’ve got William Zillman who could slot in there (five-eighth) and then (David) Mead at fullback or we’ve got Ashley Harrison,” he said.
“We’ll talk about that once we know who’s available.
“If Beau’s out, we’ve got Paul Carter there but we’ll obviously have to come up with another alternative there in the hookers.”
Veteran Mark Minichiello is still recovering lost weight after a stomach virus forced him to miss the Tigers clash but Cartwright believes he’ll be fine to play the Raiders while Ryan James and Ben Ridge have been selected in a six-man bench.
Titans: William Zillman, Kevin Gordon, Brad Tighe, Brad Takairangi, David Mead, Aidan Sezer, Albert Kelly, Luke Douglas, Beau Falloon, Nate Myles, Greg Bird, David Taylor, Ashley Harrison. Interchange (two to be omitted): Matthew White, Luke Bailey, Mark Minichiello, Paul Carter, Ryan James, Ben Ridge.