Greg Bird is set to be packed off to the Gold Coast Titans engine room, leaving two fresh-faced upstarts in a hot battle for the Titans’ No.6 jumper.This is the upshot of the Titans’ impressive trial in Coffs Harbour on Saturday night, when talented pivot prospects Luke Capewell and Jordan Rankin played cameo halves roles in the 42-4 slaughter of South Sydney. The pair are set to be face another acid test against North Queensland Cowboys halfback Johnathan Thurston in Cairns on Saturday night. If they again pass with shining colours, the Titans’ safe option of shuffling Bird into the No.6 jumper vacated by dual international Mat Rogers could be shelved before the NRL’s opening round to help to cover a long list of injured backrowers. “I want to have a good go this year,” Capewell said. “I’ve got my goals set, and six is where I want to be. Hopefully I can cement a spot there. “There’s been a lot of competition, all of us are pushing each other at training. “My strength is probably a running five-eighth. We’ve got a pretty good halfback there, Scotty Prince, it doesn’t bother me. I can do my ball running outside him.” Titans coach John Cartwright has hinted that Bird is increasingly likely to bulk up his side’s forward pack against NRL premiers St George Illawarra in NRL premiership round one, with mainstays Anthony Laffranchi, Mark Minichiello and Brad Meyers sidelined. “It is (the biggest headache) and we’ve got a lot of backrowers injured, so we’ve got to work out what’s best for the back row and who’s best at five-eighth,” Cartwright said. Ex-Rabbitohs player Capewell, 21, who made his NRL debut for Souths in 2008, was a shining light when pitched against his former club. Rankin, who earned his NRL debut as a 16-year-old schoolboy in 2008, is also coming of age. The 19-year-old has developed a presence, indicating he may be ready for a more regular baptism of fire in 2011. “That was probably the best stint he’s had in first grade,” Cartwright said. “He went on to the field when our boys were pretty well on top, but he was pretty decisive and it’s probably the best 40 minutes he’s put together in first grade.” The form of back-up hooker Riley Brown was another positive. Brown will deputise for injured No.9 Nathan Friend in the opening rounds alongside super utility Preston Campbell.

Advertisements