Titans will lift for Bailey in NRL: coach
Filling the void left by Luke Bailey is easier said than done - but Gold Coast coach John Cartwright is confident the injured prop's influence will help the Titans pull off a bold NRL finals bid.
The improbable task of winning their final three games to remain a top-eight chance only became harder for the Titans when Bailey went under the knife today for a season-ending ruptured Achilles.
To boot, Ashley Harrison (hip/glutes), Greg Bird (rib) and William Zillman (sternum) were given until the weekend to prove their fitness for Sunday's Skilled Park clash with Parramatta despite being named in the starting side.
However, Cartwright was confident the Titans would lift for a last gasp top-eight tilt thanks to a man who won't even be on the field.
"Bails is a hard man to replace - just the little things that he does for us. He is one of our leaders," he said.
"But he has left his imprint on the boys that are there.
"They will want to fill the void that he has left, I am sure."
Cartwright again fended off talk that Bailey's 231-game NRL career was in doubt after the 32-year-old prepared for a six-month recovery.
Asked why it was not career-threatening, Cartwright said: "Because Achilles tendons are repaired every year.
"Several players have had them done. We have done them here ourselves and players have come back from them.
"If there was one bloke you would not doubt could beat the injury, it is Bails."
Cartwright said he had taken a "wait and see" approach with Bird, Harrison and Zillman.
"If you take three players out of your side, it is going to hurt but we have dealt with it in previous games especially during the Origin period - we are confident whoever comes in, they will do a job," he said.
The Titans coach also did not appear thrown by the season resurgence of weekend foe Parramatta, who have won three of their past four games in a bid to avoid the wooden spoon in skipper Nathan Hindmarsh's final season.
"They have really turned their season around ... but in the end, we are playing for more than what they are playing for," Cartwright said.
"We will be out there fighting until the end."