Titans coach sweats on stars for Warriors clash
Hopeful Gold Coast Titans coach John Cartwright has named four players recovering from injury and illness for Saturday's NRL clash with the New Zealand Warriors and is also crossing his fingers State of Origin adversaries Greg Bird and Nate Myles emerge from tomorrow's series decider unscathed.
Although blessed with a bye week to rest battered and bruised personnel, there is still no guarantee veteran prop Luke Bailey, fullback William Zillman and centre Beau Champion will run on to Skilled Park for the clash between two sides on the fringes of the top eight.
Former Kangaroos and NSW front rower Bailey has been sidelined with a rib injury for a month following the round 13 clash with North Queensland and was rated only a 50-50 chance to make his comeback against a physically imposing Warriors pack.
"He's got a few more hurdles to jump,'' Cartwright admitted.
"He did a bit of contact today and it didn't feel too bad so we'll give him up until Thursday because we've got to wait on the Origin guys anyway.
"It's just the pain threshold, whether he can get through that pain and whether another week is going to make it any better or not."
Bailey will wear a specially designed guard for a fitness test which determine whether he can handle what looms as a bruising showdown.
"It's always a very physical game against the Warriors. We like to be close to our best as we can but that's out of our hands," Cartwright said.
"We won't risk him. He had a really bad injury and a very painful one as well."
The prognosis was apparently brighter for Zillman (hamstring) and Champion (ankle) while prop Matt White (tonsillitis) has been cleared to return after also missing the 8-6 loss to St George Illawarra leading into the bye.
White has recovered after losing almost 5kg while being hospitalised but will have his tonsils removed at the end of the season.
Cartwright hoped Myles and Bird would get through the decisive Origin encounter in Brisbane and also be able to participate in Friday's final training session.
The back rowers were judged man of the match for Queensland and New South Wales respectively in the series opener and game two and form an integral part of a Gold Coast pack already missing fellow Origin star Ashley Harrison through injury.
Gold Coast are 10th on the ladder and the Warriors two points ahead of them in ninth heading into the 18th round clash. The Warriors were comfortable 26-6 winners when the teams met in Auckland in round four.
Gold Coast Titans: William Zillman, Kevin Gordon, Jamal Idris, Beau Champion, David Mead, Aidan Sezer, Scott Prince, Luke Bailey, Matt Srama, Luke Douglas, Greg Bird, Mark Minichiello, Nate Myles. Interchange: Matt White, Brenton Lawrence, Ben Ridge, Luke O'Dwyer.