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Titans sweat on Campbell

Laine Clark 27/04/2011 08:20:35 AM Comments (0)

Officially, Gold Coast Titans coach John Cartwright named an unchanged 17 for Saturday night's NRL clash with Sydney Roosters.

But the frustrated mentor is sweating on adding a name that may just turn their disappointing season start around - inspirational veteran Preston Campbell.

Cartwright would never describe the Titans as a one-man team but he conceded the wily utility would have made a difference in their gut-wrenching last round loss to the Eels - their fifth defeat in seven rounds.

Campbell has been missing in action for a month since injuring his knee in round three - and it seems his return could not come soon enough judging by Cartwright.

"We miss him when he is not there basically," Cartwright said on Tuesday.

"You tend to know when Preston is not on the field for us and at the training field especially.

"He provides just something that has been lacking in our side.

"On the weekend with Preston on the field it would have made a difference on how we approached the last 10 minutes - he's that important to our side."

Campbell will be assessed later in the week but if he returns he is likely to replace Luke Capewell at fullback judging by Cartwright's glowing assessment of makeshift pivot Will Zillman on Tuesday.

Clearly Cartwright had calmed down from his seething post-match display at Parramatta where he slammed the Titans' "arrogance" after throwing caution to the wind in the final minutes - costing them the game.

One of the main offenders was backrower Mark Minichiello, whose poor options late in the match included a pushed pass that set the Eels on course for a match winning try with 37 seconds left on the clock.

But asked if it was tempting to bench Minichiello for the Roosters clash, Cartwright said: "You can't base your decision on one game.

"He realises he made a couple of errors at the end of the game, and I know he won't do it again.

"It's not an area that has been a concern for us - last year we won more close games than anyone else in the competition.

"I was just worried about not being further in front than we were at that stage - that's what cost us the game not a couple of rash decisions at the end of the game."

While conceding their form did not warrant many State of Origin places, Cartwright backed lock Ashley Harrison to hold his Queensland spot despite pressure from North Queensland tackling machine Dallas Johnson.

"Your (team) form dictates that (Origin selection), and we are not winning enough games to get many into State of Origin - that's a fact," he said.

"As a team we have to start winning games, then individual rewards come your way."

But Cartwright said of Harrison: "I couldn't imagine him not being there - whether we are winning or losing one constant is Harro."

Cartwright also threw Greg Bird into the Origin mix.

"He is a player that thrives on that type of footy," he said.

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