No hard feelings, Steve
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
IF any members of the Titans squad that are playing tonight are harbouring any ill feeling towards Melbourne's Steve Turner after he reversed his decision to play with the Titans in 2007, then Gold Coast coach John Cartwright doesn't know about it.
Turner became embroiled in a bitter contract dispute between Melbourne and the Titans last year after agreeing to terms with Gold Coast in June before reneging on the deal to re-sign with the Storm in mid August claiming that he became unhappy with his decision and no longer wanted to go to the Gold Coast.
Recently there has been a lot of speculation that the Storm winger will be a marked man at tonight's trial at the BCU International Stadium, particularly after Gold Coast chief executive Michael Searle said Turner should expect a 'bit of treatment'.
Cartwright insists that it simply won't be the case.
"That's just been the media that have been talking that up, it hasn't even been mentioned by the blokes here," the Titans' coach said yesterday.
"None of these blokes want to get suspended nor have they had anything to do with him as all that was handled by the club not the players.
"If Steve Turner comes in for any extra special attention, that's because of you guys in the media, not us."
Of more concern to Cartwright is the prospect of finalising his squad before the season proper gets underway in four weeks time.
It is for this reason that the Titans have chosen to field a relatively inexperienced line-up tonight against last year's grand finalists.
"We've only got three trials and we've got a lot of players to look at," Cartwright said.
The coach of the fledgling club was quick to point that he realises that this isn't an ideal situation for league fans in the country desperate to see the likes of Scott Prince, Preston Campbell, Mat Rogers and Luke Bailey in their own backyard but the fact that the club is in it's first year has forced his hand.
"We're starting from scratch and all the players in the top squad we've seen, that's why we signed them in the first place but the players in our second tier squad we haven't seen at this level yet," he said.
"It's alright for the other clubs as they've had a look at nearly all of their players before."
With such a young squad running onto the paddock, Cartwright knows that there will be plenty of butterflies floating around the sheds before kickoff but the coach has one very simple message that he will give to his players before they take the field.
"I'll tell them to just go out and enjoy themselves," he said.
"It's a real Rocky anthem really for these guys as six months ago they were watching these guys run around in a grand final and now they find themselves playing against them.
"Now they're getting a run against quality opposition and hopefully they'll realise that it isn't huge gap between them and the level above."