EVEN though they have lost Mat Rogers and probably Luke Bailey, Gold Coast playmaker Preston Campbell believes his side has enough spirit to put his former club, Penrith, to the sword when he returns to the foot of the mountains tonight.
Campbell expects the Gold Coast’s young talent will step up in place of the experienced heads at CUA Stadium.Co-captain Bailey is not expected to play as he is still recovering from a knee injury suffered against Canberra last round, while Rogers has neck and shoulder problems.
The in-form Campbell, who will play five-eighth tonight, says the Titans are confident they can counter the Panthers’ loose style of play.
"We are feeling pretty good," Campbell said. "We’ve got a couple of blokes that have been ruled out in Matty Rogers and Luke Bailey. With those two players in, we are at full strength, but we are still feeling pretty confident that we can go out and play well.
"[It’s] just one of those things in rugby league. We’ve got a couple of young blokes coming through. A couple of fresh faces in the team at the moment and they’re going really well. We are a bit careful, treading lightly, because the Panthers are that sort of team, it doesn’t look like they have any structure or anything … they like to play a game of touch. We hope to go out and play with a bit of structure. If the game’s played like that, I think we’ve got a bit more of a chance of winning. If the ball’s being thrown around and there is a lot of offloads, it’s going to be really tough to hold the Panthers back."
Six rounds into the NRL season the Titans have the best defensive record in the competition having conceded just over 12 points a match.
While the Penrith side is laced with new talent, Campbell said the Titans were acutely aware not only of the young, but also the more experienced Panthers.
"They’ve got a lot of fresh faces," Campbell said. "But then they’ve got blokes like Luke Lewis, Frank Pritchard and Trent Waterhouse, and obviously Petero Civoniceva, who are experienced campaigners. With the young blokes like Jarrod Sammut, young Michael Jennings, young Lachlan Coote, these guys can score tries from pretty much anywhere with the experience and the skill they have."