Gold Coast coach Neil Henry expects Jarryd Hayne will be cleared to play in the Titans’ crucial home game next Saturday against Penrith.
Hayne had to be helped off in the 65th minute of Gold Coast’s 26-6 victory over hapless Newcastle at Hunter Stadium on Saturday afternoon after suffering a head knock in a tackle.
The Titans (27 points) consolidated eighth spot with two games left against the Panthers (home) and North Queensland (away), extending Newcastle’s club-record losing streak to 16.
Henry believes beating the seventh-placed Panthers should secure Gold Coast’s first finals berth in six years.
“Penrith next week at home should be a great game of footy … they’re outstanding at the moment, so it will be a real good test for us.
“Our last game is against the Cowboys up there in Townsville, so it’s tight, and I think we need to win another game, so it really comes down to next week.”
Hayne also suffered a minor leg injury but Henry was confident he’d line up against Penrith.
“He’s OK. He’s a bit concussed.
“He got caught in the wrong position there and took a knock, and he’s got a bit of a cork to the calf … we just thought it was easier to leave him off …
“He should be fine. Talking to the doc, he could have gone back on if we needed him to but there was no need.”
Halfback Tyrone Roberts successfully returned from injury and kicked five goals from five attempts against his former club.
Roberts replaced Ash Taylor, who was rested, but Henry said Taylor would return against Penrith, indicating Hayne could challenge David Mead for the fullback position.
“He’s filled in there, and it’s all about getting a bit of time into his legs and getting him on the field but, if he’s going to take on the fullback role, he’s got to cover a lot of ground.
“We all know it’s his preferred position and he’s a great player back there, but … Meady’s been doing a great job there anyway.”
Henry said the Titans should have gone on with the job after building an early lead against Newcastle.
Co-captain Ryan James crashed over twice in the first 20 minutes for an 18-0 lead.
Newcastle winger Nathan Ross scored a 90-metre intercept try in the 28th minute, cutting the halftime deficit to 18-6, then Titans prop Luke Douglas burrowed over in the 50th minute to extend the lead to 24-6.
Knights coach Nathan Brown was pleased with his team’s response after conceding three soft early tries.
“We’ve struggled, as the scoreboard suggests, this year with getting 13-plus people on the bus at the same time,” Brown said.
“But the fifth highest-paid player by the Knights today was Tyrone Roberts, so that sums up the situation we’re in at the minute, and that’s why we are sitting where we are sitting.”