Youth in, Campbell-Bailey out for Titans - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Youth in, Campbell-Bailey out for Titans

Laine Clark 24/06/2011 04:32:07 PM Comments (0)

Usually the loss of key NRL veterans Luke Bailey and Preston Campbell does not give Gold Coast a spring in their step.

But Titans' coach John Cartwright believes the inspirational youngsters asked to fill their shoes might provide the shot in the arm his battling side desperately need.

Cartwright on Friday put a line through Bailey (knee) and Campbell (wrist) for Saturday's home clash with the Sharks.

While they will be sorely missed, Cartwright said his side is already buzzing, thanks to the players who replace them - comeback kid Jordan Rankin and inspirational rookie Brenton Lawrence.

Three, long years after making his first grade debut for the Titans at just 16, playmaker Rankin has finally earned his second NRL nod, slotting in at fullback in a reshuffled backline.

It's an impressive story - but debutant Lawrence might have him beat.

Playing park footy in Canberra just 12 months ago, part-time scaffolder Lawrence packed a "pair of footy boots and a spirit level" and relocated to the tourist strip after a chance phone call from a mate - (Queensland Cup club) Burleigh Bears' captain Scott Smith.

His form for the Bears was so impressive he was asked to train with the Titans this year - and promptly earned a two-year deal.

Cartwright has not finalised his 17 but confirms powerhouse prop Lawrence is set to come off the bench against the Sharks.

"To make his NRL debut at 25 - I think it is a great lesson for everyone not to give up," Cartwright said of Lawrence, like Rankin, a former Australian Schoolboy player.

"He's a bloke who has worked hard to live his dream.

"And he's the sort of bloke we need at the moment.

"He is very enthusiastic and well respected by the rest of the squad."

Cartwright is just as chuffed about Rankin's return.

Considered the next big thing, Rankin never had another taste of the NRL after making his debut as a halfback against Newcastle in August, 2008 - until now.

"Hehas worked very hard in those three years," Cartwright said.

"It is hard sometimes when you get all these things written and said about you and it doesn't quite happen when you like.

"He has really put his head down - he demanded a call-up.

"In a year we haven't had a lot to cheer about, he's a great story for everyone - it really is like his debut."

The dead-last Titans (4-10 record) need something to kick-start a revival, particularly at home - they have lost five of their seven 2011 Skilled Park matches.

"I said to the players you never lose your ability, sometimes you lose a bit of belief and trust, but as soon as that comes in - and it will - we will test some sides," Cartwright said.

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