Cut Bird some slack says Friend - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cut Bird some slack says Friend

By Wayne Heming 02/04/2010 04:22:31 PM Comments (0)

Hooker Nathan Friend says the Gold Coast's perfect start to the NRL season should silence those criticising Greg Bird and the Titans' forwards.

Friend also believes Preston Campbell will slot into Scott Prince's halfback boots without a drama against Cowboys star Johnathan Thurston at Dairy Farmers Stadium on Saturday night.

Former Test and NSW representative Bird hasn't produced his best form in three games for the Gold Coast.

But given he was out of the NRL for a season and has a new set of teammates to get to know, Friend believes the ex-Cronulla star deserves to be cut a bit of slack.

"Just having his presence around the place makes a big difference," he said.

"I'm not sure what you guys (media) are searching for from him but he's a quality player who certainly does the little things that we require from him.

"If he scores a couple of tries then you guys might think he's had a wow of a game, but we all know he's doing his job.

"He produces some line speed and aggression in defence that we've probably lacked in the backs in the last couple of years."

Gold Coast have won both their matches at Dairy Farmers Stadium, including last year's 14-10 effort when Campbell played at No.7 in place of Prince.

Friend said little would change without their skipper.

"We'll have no problems at all and we're extremely confident with Presto there," he said. "Everyone knows he's a great player and that position is certainly not going to worry him at all.

"I'm more excited than anything to have the great man there."

Cowboys coach Neil Henry identified the joint danger of Campbell and Bird in the halves but queried whether the Titans could cover the loss of Prince's quality kicking game.

North Queensland have dropped Carl Webb off their interchange bench to give him much-needed match time with the Cairns Pride in the Queensland Cup.

Webb has been struggling with calf injuries to both legs and Henry has opted to promote 20-year-old former NZ Warrior Leeson Ah Mau on to the bench.

Fullback Ty Williams (biceps) underwent a Friday morning fitness test but is expected to line up.

St George-Illawarra carved up the Cowboys right-side defence in Wollongong last week, and rookie five-eighth Ray Thompson will have his work cut out to help fix their communication problems.

The Titans viewed some video of Thompson but all eyes will be on Johnathan Thurston and his "show and go" dummy play.

"We played them (Cowboys) in the trials and they beat us convincingly," said Friend.

"They're very dangerous around the middle with Thurston and Aaron Payne and they've got a large pack."

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