Alarm bells should be ringing for Gold Coast coach Neil Henry after the Titans’ halfback jinx appeared to strike again.
But Henry’s nerves have been settled by someone who has had to overcome much greater odds.
Henry did not hide his concern after injured No.7 Ash Taylor missed his last chance to combine with new pivot Tyrone Roberts in Saturday night’s 22-20 trial loss to South Sydney on the Gold Coast.
The man fast-tracked in the pre-season to replace first choice halfback Kane Elgey (knee) succumbed to a shoulder injury ahead of the match.
However, Henry walked away from the match a happy man thanks to the impressive display of fringe half Cameron Cullen.
The former Broncos under 20s player appears to have snapped up an NRL contract after initially being signed on a six-week “train and trial” deal following Elgey’s pre-season injury.
“I was pretty happy actually I was very happy with the way Cullo came in and rotated in the halves,” Henry said.
“There’s no doubt with Kane out we need back up in that position and the way Cullo is playing we will take a serious look at him.”
Cullen will soon learn if he gets a nod for the NRL season or is relegated back to the second tier Queensland Cup.
Either way Cullen won’t lose hope after being inspired by his late brother.
The former Australian Schoolboys rep said the accidental death of his sibling on a surfing trip last year rocked him.
But Cullen said it ultimately spurred him on to finally reach the “next level” in rugby league.
“One of the last things I actually spoke to my brother about before he went on that surfing trip, and it’s always been a goal of mine, is to play NRL,” Cullen told Mackay’s Daily Mercury newspaper.
“He said to me ‘mate, I can bet my house on it, you’ll get into an NRL system’.
“I’ve always been motivated to play first grade but now it’s at the next level.”
Dan Mortimer replaced Taylor as starting Titans halfback on Saturday night but it was Cullen who turned most heads off the bench with a stellar display capped by a 38th minute solo try.
Meanwhile, Henry admitted he was worried about Zeb Taia after the backrower was placed on report for an eighth-minute dangerous tackle on South Sydney captain Greg Inglis.
“It looked awkward. We will see what happens,” he said.