Friend's return 'huge'

THE Cowboys expect the return of super-fit hooker Nathan Friend to be a massive boost for the Gold Coast Titans tonight at Dairy Farmers Stadium.

Cowboys forward Ashton Sims revealed his side would be analysing video of the dangerous rake in order to negate his influence upon return from injury.

“(Friend’s inclusion) will be huge, he’s a really good player,” Sims said.

“Riley Brown will still come off the bench and bring some impact in that role but I think Nathan Friend is tried and tested, he’s very durable and very smart.

“He’s one guy we’ll definitely look at during our video session.”

Titans skipper Scott Prince is expected to play after being a late scratching last week against Canberra and Ashley Harrison will also return, but last week’s hero Greg Bird is unavailable through suspension and veteran utility Preston Campbell has succumbed to injury.

The Cowboys, meanwhile, are set to welcome Antonio Winterstein into their backline as he makes his belated debut for the club.

Speculation has raged all week about the make-up of the Cowboys backline for the Queensland derby.

There had been speculation Winterstein’s return from a broken jaw, suffered in a trial game in Alice Springs, would be on the wing at the expense of Kalifa Fai Fai Loa.

But coach Neil Henry could opt to retain the hulking Kiwi winger, whose defence has proved costly, and play Winterstein in the centres.

If he prefers that scenario, Auckland-born Will Tupou could be the unlucky player who misses out.

Henry is a Fai Fai Loa fan and might be willing to give him one more chance despite the Titans’ tendency to attack the left edge with good results.

Decisions on whether Winterstein and damaging forward Scott Bolton play will be left until today.

Sims said it would be a harsh call on his younger brother Tariq to miss out if Bolton’s calf comes up trumps.

“It would be a bit harsh for him but had Queensland not been so good the last six years I reckon he’d have got a start for the Maroons in Origin in the last couple of years,” said Sims who, like Winterstein, left the Broncos last season.

Sims expects to see plenty of former Dragons teammate Luke Bailey, a player he credits with helping his career when he first entered grade as an 18-year-old in 2003.

“I’ve always had the utmost respect for Bails; I always will,” he said.



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