Titans star faces fear

By DANIEL PACE

FORMER Wallaby Mat Rogers has opened up about his fear of missing the Gold Coast Titans' historic NRL season-opener in Brisbane on Sunday.

Rogers, 31, is suffering from a chest cold but should be fit to play against St George Illawarra at Suncorp Stadium, although he's yet to be given a final clearance.

The Titans centre felt ill earlier this week and vomited following a weights session under tough trainer Billy Johnstone Wednesday.

He missed training later that day.

But Rogers was in good spirits during a pool session yesterday and later trained for two hours with the squad.

"I was worried," said Rogers, who's preparing for his first NRL premiership match since 2001 after quitting rugby in December.

"I was just thinking 'gees you work so hard to get to a point and then a few days out you get crook'.

"When you train as hard as we do, sometimes your immune system can lower a bit.

"It's alright now. All the boys just reckon I'm getting old. They call me the old man of the team.

"There's a lot of young blokes here and being 31, most of them were still in primary school when I started (my NRL career)."

Rogers, set to mark Dragons centre Wes Naiqama this weekend, predicted it could take a month for the Titans to gel as an attacking unit but stressed the importance of a winning start.

"No-one will care about trial matches if we lose on Sunday," Rogers said. "It is crucial for us to get a winning start for our fans who have been so supportive before we've even kicked off.

"I think it's important for us to win early and win well."

Rogers said he was looking forward to striking up a potent combination with halves Matt Hilder and Scott Prince, who made the dual international look like a fool at training recently with one of his trademark dummies.

"Princey, when he gets the ball, he's a freak and it's hard to know what he's going to do at the moment," Rogers said.

"That doesn't just fool us, it fools the opposition. He's got the best dummy I've ever seen."

Former Melbourne hooker Nathan Friend will take his place on the bench against the underdog Dragons after enduring some rigorous contact work on his injured shoulder yesterday.

Centres Josh Graham and Brett Delaney drop out of the squad, although Delaney has been placed on stand-by if Rogers is ruled out.

Sunday's match will be televised live on NBN.



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