Zillman case 'won't distract Titans' - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Zillman case 'won't distract Titans'

By Daniel Pace 22/08/2009 04:14:02 PM Comments (0)

Gold Coast coach John Cartwright insists William Zillman's suspension for biting has not distracted his players leading into Sunday's NRL clash with Cronulla at Skilled Park.

The third-placed Titans have virtually sewn up a top-four spot, although victory against the struggling Sharks will guarantee them a home semi-final.

Zillman will miss his team's next three matches against Cronulla, Wests Tigers and Manly - plus the opening week of the finals - after copping a four-match ban on Wednesday for biting South Sydney winger Jamie Simpson.

A last-ditch bid to clear the fullback's name failed on Friday night when judiciary chairman Robert Abood rejected the Titans' application to appeal the ban.

When asked on Saturday if the biting conviction had proved a distraction at training this week, Cartwright replied: "That's been an issue for the management of the club.

"We've done everything we possibly could do for Zilly (Zillman).

"We gave it every possible chance but it just fell on deaf ears.

"Unfortunately it didn't go our way but it hasn't affected our training at all during the week.

"We just have to make sure we're still playing when he can play again."

Workaholic back-rower Anthony Laffranchi added: "Personally I'm shattered for the bloke.

"We've just got to put that to bed and get on with the job."

Utility Preston Campbell will switch from five-eighth to fullback to cover for Zillman, with Mat Rogers set to wear the No.6 jersey.

Esi Tonga is likely to be given a reprieve and slot into the backline.

He had been banished to Queensland Cup feeder club Ipswich Jets as punishment for missing the team recovery session following their loss to North Queensland in round 22.

On form, the Sharks, who suffered their heaviest loss on home soil last weekend in a 56-10 mauling from Wests Tigers, look to have no chance against a Titans outfit that has lost only once at home in 2009.

The clash will have little bearing on the make-up of the top eight in the "destiny round" but Cartwright won't be going easy on Ricky Stuart's team.

"We've got a hell of a lot to play for," he said.

"The way the competition sits, if we win tomorrow then we guarantee ourselves a spot in the four, which is a home semi.

"If we can do that with two rounds to go, it'd make these last two rounds just a little bit more enjoyable for us."

Even the weather should be an advantage for the Titans in a match starting 2pm AEST, with the temperature predicted to reach 28 degrees on the Gold Coast.

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