Channel 9 were hoping to market this game as Jarryd Hayne vs the Eels, however fans will have to wait until Round 24 to see him take on his former side after the Hayne plane was grounded with an ankle injury last week. The extent of the Titans injury woes forced them to immediately sign Roosters centre Dale Copley on Tuesday, however the NRL have denied their request to have him play this Friday. The Eels have also lost their own superstar in Corey Norman, who will miss the clash with a hamstring injury.
Last Time Out
The Titans had the unwelcome honour of giving the Knights their first victory in 19 games last week, and the shocking injury toll from that match has left the Titans low on troops for Fridays clash. Versatile halfback Tyler Cornish has been rushed into his NRL debut in Jarryd Hayne’s fullback jersey, due to the preferred replacement Tyrone Roberts having to play at hooker. Further injuries to Anthony Don and Karl Lawton left the Titans with just 14 players for the second half of the Knights clash, and William Zillman and Ryan Simpkins have been brought into the side to replace them this week. The Titans were hit hard by injuries, however ultimately it was their poor discipline and handling of the ball that cost them against the Knights. Their effort and execution will need to be far better against a strong Eels side.
Parramatta blitzed their way to a 2-0 season start with a dominant 34-16 performance against the Dragons. The Eels showed that they can be one of the most lethal sides in the competition, with the pairing of Michael Jennings and Semi Radradra slaughtering the Dragons right edge. Corey Norman was once again a stand out performer as he guided his side around, and the Titans will certainly be relieved that he’s sitting out of Fridays clash.
Key Match Up
In a battle of speed vs power, Titans centre Konrad Hurrell will need to keep the in-form Michael Jennings quiet all night, otherwise the floodgates could once again open on the Eels left edge. Both men have enjoyed a strong start to the season with Hurrell scoring 2 tries last week, however Jennings has been a nightmare to defend for opposition edges. His through the legs flick pass to Semi Radradra will feature on the highlight reels for some time, and was just one of his two try assists. Hurrell always charges the ball up with no fear, but his defence has been a bit poor to begin the season. The Roosters had a field day against Hurrell’s edge in Round 1, as opposite centre Latrell Mitchell crossed for a hat-trick out wide. The Titans centre must do his best to contain Jennings and make the correct defensive decisions with winger William Zillman, otherwise we could be seeing Semi Radradra bag himself a few more tries.
Corey Norman’s absence gives the injury plagued Titans much more of a chance now, and they could return to their underdog style of play that was so successful in 2016 due to the absence of stars such as Hayne. However, the Eels have strike power all over the board and it will be very difficult for the Titans to contain them when they have so many players missing from their top 17.
Gold Coast Titans v Parramatta Eels at Cbus Super Stadium, 8.05pm (AEDT) Friday
Titans: 1. Tyler Cornish 2. Tyronne Roberts-Davis 3. Dan Sarginson 4. Konrad Hurrell 5. William Zillman 6. Kane Elgey 7. Ashley Taylor 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Tyrone Roberts 10. Ryan James (c) 11. Kevin Proctor (c) 12. Chris McQueen 13. Agnatius Paasi. 14. Ryan Simpkins 15. Nathaniel Peteru 16. Leivaha Pulu 17. Joe Greenwood 18. Paterika Vaivai 19. Max King 20. Eddy Pettybourne 21. Karl Lawton
Eels: 1. Bevan French 2. Semi Radradra 3. Michael Jennings 4. Brad Takairangi 5. Josh Hoffman 6. Clinton Gutherson 7. Jeff Robson 8. Suaia Matagi 9. Kaysa Pritchard 10. Tim Mannah (c)11. Manu Ma’u 12. Tepai Moeroa 13. Beau Scott (c) 14. Nathan Brown 15. Daniel Alvaro 16. Rory O’Brien 17. Frank Pritchard 18. David Gower 19. Marata Niukore 20. Kirisome Auva’a 21. Siosaia Vave