James back for Cowboys clash
FORMER Bilambil Jet Ryan James returns to top-flight rugby league in Cairns tonight when the Gold Coast Titans tackle North Queensland in their final pre-season trial.
The man mountain cast an imposing figure as he prepared to board his flight north yesterday, focused on making a big impact after serving his week’s suspension.
Suspended following a dangerous tackle in the NRL All-Stars clash, the indigenous representative will be a welcome return to a team quickly finding its stride in 2011.
Having been thumped 42-18 by Brisbane a fortnight ago, the Titans regrouped and turned the tables dramatically to topple South Sydney 42-4 in Coffs Harbour last weekend.
Coach John Cartwright is one step closer to settling on a side for the club’s season-opening blockbuster against St George, condensing his 25-man travelling party to just 21.
Tweed Heads Seagulls flyers make up the back three, with cult figure Shannon Walker lining up in the No.1 between fellow flyers Kevin Gordon and David Mead.
Big-hitting New Zealander Clinton Toopi mans the centres with Mudgeeraba’s Steve Michaels, with Scott Prince and Greg Bird the formidable halves pairing.
Bald bruisers Luke Bailey and Matthew White spearhead the engine room either side of Riley Brown, with Seagull Bodene Thompson, defensive weapon Sam Tagatese and Queensland State of Origin star Ashley Harrison filling the back-row.
As well as James, the extended eight-man bench includes Pottsville’s Kayne Lawton, Seagulls Ben Ridge and Will Matthews, super subs Preston Campbell and Luke Capewell, and big units Michael Henderson and Joseph Tomane.
All will be looking to impress, with Bilambil’s Luke O’Dwyer, Murwillumbah’s Anthony Laffranchi, his second-row partner Mark Minniciello and fullback William Zillman likely to force their way back into the squad when fit.
The action kicks off at 7pm.