Paasi may be best off bench: Bird

A front row start may beckon Agnatius Paasi but Gold Coast veteran Greg Bird believes the Tongan battering ram can wreak more havoc off the bench for the Titans.

Luke Douglas’ round one suspension for a careless high tackle has improved the NRL Auckland Nines standout’s chances of nabbing a starting prop spot in the season opener against Newcastle.

Titans coach Neil Henry had admitted Paasi was already keeping Ryan James and Dave Shillington honest ahead of the March 6 clash with the Knights.

Paasi picked up where he left off from his Nines heroics with another eye catching display in last week’s 20-all trial draw with an in-form Parramatta.

Bird said Paasi’s Nines form where he earned team of the tournament honours was no surprise – but his tip for where best to use the barnstorming prop was.

“He has his work cut out for him (to nab front row start) but there are four positions on the bench,” Bird told reporters.

“He is pretty well suited to one of those (bench spots) because he has the versatility to move into the backrow as well.”

Still, Bird believed Paasi’s form would only benefit the Titans pack this season as they look to help the NRL wooden spoon favourites prove the critics wrong.

“After his Nines performance people were saying that was the first time (he had performed like that) but we have seen it before from him – we know what he is capable of,” Bird said.

“He is definitely pushing for a starting position.

“We have an experienced pack but having young guys like that putting pressure on more experienced players for a starting spot is only healthy for a club.”

Bird believed their pack also featuring returning hooker Nathan Friend and former Queensland backrower Chris McQueen were the key to a Titans turnaround in 2016.

“I think we have a great forward pack,” he said.

“For the last few years we have had great forwards but we have to start turning that into points.

“We can’t be reliant on getting out of our end and being satisfied with that.

“We have to be winning games. I definitely think we have the guys here to set a platform for us.”

The prospect of McQueen running out in Titans colours in 2016 excited Bird.

“He brings a fair amount of punch on that edge running off (halfback) Tyrone (Roberts),” he said.

Gold Coast are expected to field their best line-up yet against South Sydney in Saturday night’s final trial at Pizzey Park.

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