James’ positional switch stunted by injury
Titans captain Ryan James is facing a positional switch, but the NSW Origin hopeful may not get to test out his new spot before Round 1 of the NRL season.
Titans coach Garth Brennan admitted James may not play a trial match before the Gold Coast kicks off the 2019 premiership campaign against Canberra at Cbus Super Stadium on March 17.
James has been sidelined with a knee injury suffered in a training incident a fortnight ago.
The workhorse forward clashed knees with a teammate, suffering a mild ligament injury which has kept him out of contact training.
James has been a durable player for the Titans, only missing six games over the past four seasons.
The 27-year-old is hoping to play in the final trial, against the Broncos at Cbus Super Stadium on March 2, but Brennan admitted he was no certainty to be fit.
"I'm not too concerned if he doesn't trial at all," Brennan said.
"I'm not going to rush him. I don't need to see him trial.
"He gives everything he's got.
"He's trained really well and is in great shape.
"It's not ideal him having this little injury but he doesn't blow out with his weight.
"He keeps his body in good shape.
"He will definitely make round 1 and that's all I'm concerned about."
Brennan will experiment with some different combinations when the Titans play their first trial match against the Cowboys on the Sunshine Coast on Saturday night.
Rookie sensation AJ Brimson is not expected to play against the Cowboys as he continues his return from a shoulder reconstruction.
The Titans' five All Stars representatives escaped last Friday's exhibition without any major concerns, apart from Panthers recruit Tyrone Peachey, who has five stitches in a calf laceration.
When James returns, he could be starting as an edge backrower instead of prop due to his versatility.
The 106kg forward has played most of 138 NRL games in the front-row and was on the verge of Blues selection last year as a prop.
But the arrival of former Kangaroos prop Shannon Boyd from Canberra could see James shifted to the back row.
Brennan is weighing up starting with Boyd and Queensland Origin prop Jarrod Wallace in the front-row.
That would see James start on the left edge alongside fellow backrowers Kevin Proctor and Jai Arrow (lock).
Given James has a big motor and is capable of playing long minutes, he could shift into the front row when Boyd is benched, allowing Brennan to use Bryce Cartwright off the interchange at left edge.
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