Tough to axe Minichiello: Titans coach
Gold Coast coach John Cartwright says deciding to omit veteran forward Mark Minichiello from his opening round NRL line-up was one of the toughest selection calls he's had to make.
Minichiello, who holds the record for the most Titans appearances in their six-year history, was left out on Tuesday for Sunday's clash with Cronulla in Sydney with youngsters Ben Ridge and Ryan James getting the nod.
Cartwright said the decision doesn't mark the end of the road for the 31-year-old but was made to reward the best-performing players in the club's pre-season trials.
"It was really tough. There's a few there that didn't deserve not to be there but I had to narrow it down," he said.
"No matter who missed out it was going to be tough."
Three players will debut for the club against the Sharks - Albert Kelly, Dave Taylor and Brad Takairangi.
Kelly has been given the nod to replace departed club captain Scott Prince in the No.7 jersey against the club that sacked him in 2012.
But Cartwright said building Kelly up as Prince's replacement was the last thing his new recruit needed, backing the 21-year-old to shine through his own natural flair.
"He's just got to go out and play like it's in the backyard," Cartwright said.
"That's what has impressed everyone since he's been here and through the trials."
Queensland representative forward Dave Taylor has also been told to back his instincts.
The giant 24-year-old will start from the bench in his first appearance since moving from South Sydney, but after an off-season hampered by injury, Cartwright says simplicity is the key for his star.
"Dave has got as much potential as anyone in the game," Cartwright said.
"He's a gamebreaker ... he'll start on the bench but he's a very destructive player.
"Basically Dave's just got to run hard and tackle hard."
Takairangi, picked up from the Sydney Roosters in the off-season, won a battle with Kevin Gordon for the left centre's role with flyer Gordon to remain on the wing.
Veteran forward Luke Bailey is also in the squad and looks likely to make his return to action after working his way back from a season-ending ruptured Achilles tendon injury last year.
Titans: William Zillman, Kevin Gordon, Brad Takairangi, Jamal Idris, David Mead, Aidan Sezer, Albert Kelly, Luke Douglas, Matt Srama, Nate Myles, Greg Bird, Ben Ridge, Ashley Harrison. Interchange: Dave Taylor, Luke Bailey, Ryan James, Beau Falloon, Luke O'Dwyer (one to be omitted).
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