The Gold Coast Titans will be looking to start their season off with a win in front of their home fans, when the Canberra Raiders visit Cbus Super Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The Titans will be hoping to have a good turn out, as their fans will be unable to attend another home until Round 9 due to the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
Gold Coast Titans
With plenty of new recruits and a rookie coach taking the helm, it will be interesting to see how well the Titans click in their first game of the season. The Gold Coast lost both of their pre-season trial games, however they put up a tough fight against the Warriors in their most recent trial game.
The Raiders head into 2018 after a disappointing finish to 2017, in which they missed a spot in the top 8. Their squad has had minimal changes in recent years which gives the Raiders the benefit of knowing each other’s game. An unfortunate ACL injury to hooker Josh Hodgson has robbed the Raiders of their best player for the entire 2018 season.
Gold Coast Titans
The Titans are a bit short in the forward stocks, with prop Jarrod Wallace and young forward Keegan Hipgrave missing Round 1 due to suspensions from the end of last season. Regular back-rower Jai Arrow will make his Titans debut in the front row in Wallace’s place, while Mitch Rein will play a utility role off the bench.
Ricky Stuart has made a risky decision by playing Sam Williams at halfback, with Blake Austin to provide a spark off the bench. Siliva Havili will get the first chance at Josh Hodgson’s number 9 jersey.
The final game of Round 1 features two teams who have been tipped to struggle in 2018, however both sides are capable of playing some exciting footy and providing an entertaining clash. The Titans have several new players joining their team, with Bryce Cartwright, Michael Gordon and Leilani Latu in particular being capable of providing a real spark to their new side. This will also be Garth Brennan’s first game as an NRL head coach, and he has promised to make the Titans one of the more entertaining teams in the competition, as he has urged his young halves to “play what they see” and throw the football around.
The Raiders will be down on confidence without their star hooker Josh Hodgson in the side this year, although they have plenty of other exciting talent in the team that’s capable of creating points. The deadly right side pairing of Joseph Leilua and Jordan Rapana will be looking to kick the season off in style, while Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer both have the ability to take over a game. The Raiders have plenty of size in their forward pack with monsters such as Joseph Paulo, Josh Papalii and Shannon Boyd.
It’s hard to judge who will win the battle of the forward packs, with the Raiders having the clear size advantage, whereas the Titans have a lot of speed and mobility on the edges. Bryce Cartwright and Leilani Latu add a new element to the Titans side, with their offloading ability sure to cause trouble for the defence. It should be a tight battle in the middle of the field, but the Raiders have a clear advantage in the backs, and they should be able to find points out wide.
Titans team: 1 Michael Gordon, 2 Anthony Don, 3 Dale Copley, 4 Konrad Hurrell, 5 Phillip Sami, 6 Kane Elgey, 7 Ashley Taylor, 8 Jai Arrow, 9 Nathan Peats, 10 Leilani Latu, 11 Kevin Proctor, 12 Ryan James (c), 13 Bryce Cartwright. Interchange: 14 Mitch Rein, 15 Max King, 16 Will Matthews, 17 Morgan Boyle. Reserves: 18 Joe Greenwood, 19 Jai Whitbread, 20 Tyronne Roberts Davis, 21 Aj Brimson
Raiders team: 1 Jack Wighton, 2 Nick Cotric, 3 Jarrod Croker (c), 4 Joseph Leilua, 5 Jordan Rapana, 6 Aiden Sezer, 7 Sam Williams, 8 Junior Paulo, 9 Siliva Havili, 10 Shannon Boyd, 11 Josh Papalii, 12 Joseph Tapine, 13 Elliott Whitehead. Interchange: 14 Blake Austin, 15 Luke Bateman, 16 Dunamis Lui, 17 Iosia Soliola. Reserves: 18 Charlie Gubb, 19 Brad Abbey, 20 Royce Hunt, 21 Craig Garvey
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Sunday 11th of March
Venue: Cbus Super Stadium
Kick-off: 5:30 AEST
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