GOLD Coast coach John Cartwright was “talking tough” on the eve of one of the biggest challenges of his brief NRL career against Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium tonight.
While most tipsters have written off the Titans for their local derby following the suspension of Test back-rower Anthony Laffranchi, the late withdrawal of injured Kangaroo prop Luke Bailey (calf) and fellow prop Aaron Cannings, and injury concerns over playmakers Scott Prince and Preston Campbell (both hamstring), Cartwright was having nothing to do with fears of a flogging.
Utility Luke O'Dwyer comes into the back-row for Laffranchi while former Broncos Origin and Test forward Brad Meyers moves into Bailey's key front-row spot.
Asked if his side could win against a Broncos outfit welcoming back international stars Karmichael Hunt and Justin Hodges from injury, a defiant Cartwright fired: “what do you want me to say?”
“Of course we can win. We're going up there to win.
“We've gone to Melbourne and won without our leader (Prince).
“I've got no doubt in the world we can go up there and get the two points.
“You try telling those guys out there they can't win.”
Cartwright conceded losing two Test forwards was a big setback, but was not insurmountable.
“You can replace them for one week, two weeks you start to feel it more and after three weeks you start to panic a bit,” Cartwright said.
“Those two guys would probably start for NSW in the first Origin game so if you take them out of any game you suffer.
“But one off, I've got no doubt we can get away with it.
“I've had worse weeks.”
Broncos coach Ivan Henjak said there was no way his players would be complacent because the Titans had lost two Test forwards from their pack.
“I'd like to think after two losses and the context of this game, it wouldn't matter who was playing for the Titans, that it's about them, it's about us playing the best we can and getting the two points,” Henjak said.
Henjak believed while the Titans had Prince they were a chance to topple their 'big brothers' in the derby.
Prince will play his 200th premiership game despite a niggling hamstring problem.
Henjak will make a decision on Hodges's fitness later today with youngster Alex Glenn on standby.
Cartwright wouldn't mind if Hodges was ruled out.
“They'd miss him, we saw in the Test (last weekend) he's a class above everyone else and he seems untouchable at the moment,” said Cartwright.
“It would be a bonus if he doesn't play but we've prepared as if he is.”
O'Dwyer, who will make his first starting appearance of the season, said the players have to turn the setbacks to their advantage,
“We've got to turn it around and be positive about it and make sure everyone puts in an extra 10 per cent effort and makes it a 110 per cent effort,” he said.
“With Hodges and Hunt coming back they won't be hiding anything.”
1. Preston Campbell, 2. Kevin Gordon, 3. Josh Graham, 4. Brett Delaney, 5. Chris Walker, 6. Mat Rogers, 7. Scott Prince, 8. Brad Meyers, 9. Nathan Friend, 10. Michael Henderson, 11. Luke O'Dwyer, 12. Mark Minichiello, 13. Ashley Harrison.
Interchange: 14. William Zillman, 15. Esikeli Tonga, 16. Bodene Thompson, 17. Will Matthews