Titans to be patient with halves

His backline may be no stranger to a quick fix but Gold Coast coach Neil Henry admits he will need to be patient with his new-look Titans halves.

Henry was forced to rush former South Sydney flyer John Olive onto the wing for Sunday’s NRL opener against Newcastle after injured fullback William Zillman created a last minute backline reshuffle.

David Mead moves to fullback for co-captain Zillman (calf) while Olive gets a run just days after lobbing on the tourist strip.

While Olive has hit the ground running since arriving earlier this week, Henry said much more time would be given new halves Tyrone Roberts and Ash Taylor to find their feet.

Pivot Roberts lines up against his former side in his first game in Titans colours while Taylor makes his Gold Coast debut with just 29 minutes of first grade experience at Brisbane under his belt.

Henry admitted there was plenty of pressure on the pair but would not be out to fast-track their combination.

“There is a lot of pressure on them, we need to be a little patient with the combination,” Henry said.

Roberts – a 94-game veteran – was released with a year to run on his Newcastle contract, filling a Titans halves void created by Aidan Sezer’s Canberra defection and Daly Cherry-Evans’ backflip.

Young gun Taylor lasted just 29 minutes in his sole Broncos appearance filling in for Ben Hunt due to a freak hand injury against Melbourne in September.

“Tyrone has plenty of experience. Ash Taylor is going to take a little time,” Henry said.

“He’s only played 20 odd minutes for the Broncos.

“He’s gained some confidence with regular training with Tyrone, hopefully that leads to some chemistry on the field.

“But we have to remember he is straight out of the (under) 20s – it’s going to take a bit time.”

Henry said it was probably best that Roberts exorcises his demons early and faces his former club in the first round.

When cut Roberts made it clear that he had wanted to remain at the Knights which he first joined as a 15-year-old.

“He’s excited about going up against his former club and is looking for a big game,” Henry said.

The match looms as a glimpse at who will claim the 2016 wooden spoon.

For the first time since their 1988 debut incumbent wooden spooners Newcastle will blood five debutants.

Bookies’ wooden spoon favourites Gold Coast will feature seven new faces.


* The Titans had the worst defence in the league last season, conceding 26.5 points per game – just ahead of Newcastle (25.5 ppg)

* The Titans have lost nine of their 14 matches against the Knights, including six of their last eight

* The Titans have won just one of their five matches against the Knights at home – their equal worst record against any club (the other is South Sydney)

* The Titans have won five of their nine season opening round matches; three of their four losses have been by two points or less

* Newcastle mentor Nathan Brown returns from the English Super League to coach in the NRL for the first time since the 2008 finals opening round

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