We head off to Cairns early on Saturday morning (6am flight) knowing the clash with Northern Pride is the first of two danger games against teams well below us on the ladder but with talent that is capable of performing a lot better than their results suggest.
Coming off good wins against Ipswich, Norths and Easts, our challenge is to not drop in intensity and keep building on those efforts, particularly with our ball control and game management.
Our five-eighth Luke Jurd will be out for a few weeks with a grade 1 hamstring tear but that just means Lindon McGrady switches back from fullback to No. 6 and Talor Walters goes from the wing to fullback. They’re both played most of their football in those positions so it won’t upset our flow too much.
We’re looking like definitely having Titans forward Will Matthews with us for the trip to Cairns, even with Jai Arrow dropping out of the Titans side with injury, and he will be a major asset with his experience and football smarts.
Jack Cook will miss the trip because of a quad strain but that’s another area where we have tremendous depth. Liam Hampson goes onto the bench where he’ll play hooker in tandem with Christian Hazard and Liam has performed really well in his couple of games for us this season.
Although the Pride have only won two from 10 you only have to look at their team list to see the talent that is there.
Five-eighth Jake Clifford has played five NRL games this season and is a real danger and inside him Jack Campagnolo is capable half with a good kicking game. Both are only 21.
Javid Bowen has played plenty of NRL, his centre partner Brayden Torpy is a clever, strong player who I coached in the Titans under-20s while Will Bugden is a seasons Intrust Super Cup player who leads from the front.
The Pride are always hard to beat at Barlow Park so it’s a big challenge for us.
And so too will be Souths Logan the week after. Like the Pride, they’ve won two from 10 but also they have players in NRL squads and if we’re not up for the challenge, they can pile on points.
We’ve progressed really well over the past month and our combinations are starting to gel better, so it’s important we keep the momentum going.
We hung in really well against Easts last weekend and we’ve been more controlled with the ball too in the past two games, but we want to pride ourselves on consistency in what we do.