Gold Coast have appointed William Zillman and Nathan Friend as co-captains for the 2016 NRL season, with NSW State of Origin representative Greg Bird overlooked.
Zillman and Friend, a foundation Titan who returned to the club this season following four years with the Warriors, replace Nate Myles who left the club to move to Manly.
Bird, who was stripped of the Gold Coast co-captaincy after an off-field incident in December 2014, recently said it would “definitely bother” him if he wasn’t installed as captain.
Titans coach Neil Henry described Zillman and Friend as ultimate professionals in every way.
“We’ve decided to go with a co-captaincy system and both are natural leaders with tremendous experience and respect within the squad,” Henry said.
“We are fortunate to have several senior players who are natural leaders like these two and David Shillington, Greg Bird, Zeb Taia who is new to the club and others, and they will give Nathan and Will great support.”
Both will play on Saturday in Gold Coast’s pre-season trial against South Sydney at Pizzey Park, with Zillman set to make his long-awaited injury comeback, having not played for the club since round 10 last season.
Zillman, who underwent back surgery in August, missed the NRL Auckland Nines and the trial against Parramatta in Alice Springs because of a calf injury but is fit to help lead the Titans out for the first time.
“I’m running more freely than I have for years after having surgery although it was a bit frustrating missing the Nines and the first trial because of the calf injury. I’m raring to go now,” he said.
“It’s going to be good tough trial to prepare us for the clash with the Knights in round one, with both of us fielding strong sides and, hopefully, we get a good crowd at Pizzey Park to create a good atmosphere.”
Nene McDonald (knee), Greg Bird (face) and Josh Hoffman will all miss the match, with the latter two certain to be fit for the NRL season opener.
Gold Coast: William Zillman, David Mead, Nathan Davis, Brian Kelly, Anthony Don, Tyrone Roberts, Ash Taylor, Ryan James, Nathan Friend, David Shillington, Zeb Taia, Chris McQueen, Agnatius Paasi.