GOLD COAST Titans coach John Cartwright will give his State of Origin I pair, Greg Bird and Ashley Harrison, until match eve to decide whether they are fit enough to take on the Canterbury Bulldogs in tonight's double-header program at Suncorp Stadium.
The Titans and Bulldogs take to the field at 8.45pm following the Sea Eagles-Broncos curtain raiser which kicks off proceedings at 7pm.
Cartwright said Bird and Harrison didn't injure themselves during the Blues heart-breaking 16-12 loss to the Maroons on Wednesday night but both were feeling “sore and sorry” after the match, which as usual was played at break-neck speed and was extremely physical.
“They got through the game unscathed but were pretty bruised and battered,” Cartwright said.
“I gave them the morning off from training yesterday to give them time to put in some R&R and hopefully both will be okay to take their positions in the team.”
Cartwright has placed young Ben Ridge and Luke O'Dwyer on standby.
If both stars come out, Ridge will slot into the second-row and O'Dwyer will lock the scrums.
“If just the one can't play, I'll slip Ridge into the starting line-up and leave O'Dwyer on the bench,” Cartwright said.
The coach is also toying with the idea of making several key positional changes.
“I'll wait until the last minute before making a decision but there's a possibility I'll move Will Zillman back from five-eighth to fullback, switch Preston from fullback to halfback and push Scotty Prince out to five-eighth,” Cartwright said.
“I've got my reasons for thinking about making the changes but I won't be letting the Bulldogs know through the media what they are!”
Cartwright has a high opinion of Ridge who he says “has a bit of a future”.
“He's pretty willing and tough and also has some good skills. As he gains experience and maturity I think he's going to be a very good footballer,” he said.
This is a vital game for the Titans who sit on just eight competition points – a loss here could see them four wins outside the top eight and heading for an early end-of-season trip.
If they don't start displaying their 2010 form which was good enough to put them into the preliminary finals, Titans officials might well be weighing up where to send the players for their summer holiday.
It might end up being a weekend at Broken Head Caravan Park.
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