Decimated Titans could turn to rookie half
FORMER Parramatta squad member Jamal Fogarty will have an NRL contract registered as the Titans battle another injury crisis that threatens to totally derail their season.
Fogarty, who helped Burleigh to a Queensland Cup premiership last season before signing with the Eels, has been named on an extended bench for the Titans' clash against South Sydney on Friday night but is at long odds to play.
Gold Coast coach Neil Henry has named back-rower Chris McQueen at five-eighth to partner Ashley Taylor in the halves, with the Titans' stocks decimated by injury and Origin representation.
Henry refused to buy into the debate over standalone weekend Origin matches but conceded the absence of representative stars Jarryd Hayne, Nathan Peats and Jarrod Wallace, combined with their injury toll, made it tough to name a strong team.
"(Players unavailable because of Origin) makes it hard for us but it's compounded by the fact we've got a few injuries too," Henry said.
"We're pretty light-on with player availability and we don't have an extensive roster anyway.
"We're in an unfortunate position where it's going to impact on us and not impact much on Souths at all.
"But we've still got a solid pack of forward there and Ash Taylor can step up and have his hands on a ball a bit more and we need to get down to Sydney and be very competitive."
With Kane Elgey (sternum) and Tyrone Roberts (shoulder) both unavailable, Fogarty yet could make a surprise Titans senior debut this season.
The 23-year-old left the Eels just over a week ago to return to the Gold Coast and played for Titans feeder club Burleigh at the weekend, signalling his availability for an NRL call-up.
"We've got him there because he's obviously been released by Parramatta ... and he's been in the system before - he came through the under-20s - and we lack a bit of depth in the halves at the moment, so we thought we'd go through the process of getting him registered and if we need him, we might have to call on him," Henry said.
"(That process of registering him) has started and it can be quite a quick process.
"If we had to use him this Friday night, we could.
"He's been in regular footy and playing some good football.
"We know him, we know what he can do and he's certainly a player with some ability in a key position."
The Titans had to get an exemption from the NRL to allow second-tier contract-holder Pat Politoni to make his NRL debut but with the club's hooker stocks literally bare, the allowance was immediately granted.
"With Peatsy playing Origin and Karl Lawton injured, and even Tyrone Roberts - who's only played one game at hooker really - also injured, we need Pat to come in," Henry said.
"He's been in fine form and it's good that he can actually get an opportunity to play."
Henry said there would be no lowering of standards on Friday though.
"The talk is still positive," he said.
"Kevin Proctor comes back into the team, so there's a bit of leadership there.
"We've got a nucleus there and some guys that have played a reasonable amount of footy this year but our side has been disrupted a fair bit from day one but it's a good challenge for us.
"Souths played with a lot of energy against the Broncos and they were a bit unlucky.
"The pressure's on them too. They're in the same position as us where they need to win a few games and we just need to find a way to compete down there and get a result."