STEPPING UP: Former Mackay Cutters player Cameron Cullen (centre) will make his Titans debut against the Broncos.
STEPPING UP: Former Mackay Cutters player Cameron Cullen (centre) will make his Titans debut against the Broncos. Tony Martindaily Mercury

Halfbacks key to derby success for the Broncos

BRISBANE will look to exploit a huge experience edge in the halves in their local derby against the Gold Coast tonight, which coach Wayne Bennett believes could be another absorbing contest on the back of their memorable win over the Cowboys last week.

Titans coach Neil Henry has drafted former Australian schoolboy and Mackay Cutters scrum utility Cameron Cullen into his side for his NRL debut at five-eighth, following a leg injury to Tyrone Roberts.

Cullen's halves partner will be former Brisbane under-20s gun Ash Taylor, who has turned heads in a handful of starts after being rushed into the No.7 jumper when Kane Elgey went down with a season-ending knee injury.

Brisbane's halves pairing of Ben Hunt who is approaching 150 NRL games and who has been part of a Queensland Origin camp and Anthony Milford, the their apparent to Jonathan Thurston's Queensland and Australian No.6 jumper, are a class act which the Titans will have to restrict to have a chance of causing an upset.

Bennett said 22-year-old Cullen would bring some enthusiasm and energy to the Titans in his debut.

"I coached his dad and won a premiership with him in 1985," Bennett said.

"His dad was a wonderful player and I know Cameron, he's a really good player and I'm pleased he has got an opportunity because he has worked very hard and everyone speaks highly of him."

Cullen will be motivated by words from his older brother Justin shortly before his tragic death while on a surfing holiday in the Maldives last year.

Cullen said he and Justin had talked about him breaking into the NRL just before he went of the fateful holiday.

"He said to me 'mate, I can bet you my house on it, you'll get into the NRL system," recalled Cullen.

"I've been motivated to play NRL ever since."

Bennett said the Titans had started the season well and loomed as a real threat.

"You don't win three games out of four and not do some thing well," the master coach said.

"They've got the highest ball control in the competition, they're ranked number one and they're playing with a fair bit of spirit.

"We expect a pretty similar game as the Cowboys actually."

Brisbane's medical staff has cleared Corey Oates, Jack Reed (eye) and Jordan Kahu to return from injury for the battle at CBus Super Stadium, while the Titans received a match-eve boost with rugged forward Ryan James exonerated by the NRL judiciary after challenging a grade one dangerous contact charge.

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