Tweed stars boost Titans
JOHN Cartwright has placed his faith in two of the Tweed's finest ahead of tonight's blockbuster against the Manly Sea Eagles at Skilled Park.
The big man believes Luke O'Dwyer and Ryan James could be the catalysts required to sever the Gold Coast Titans' three-match losing streak.
The impact pair has been named on the interchange bench, with part-time Tweed Heads Seagulls enforcer Bodene Thompson called into the side at lock and dual international Mat Rogers returning from injury a month earlier than expected in the centres.
For Banora boy O'Dwyer it will be his first NRL match since suffering a serious knee injury, coincidently against Manly, in round 26 last year and undergoing a reconstruction.
“I can't wait to get back out on the field against Manly,” he said.
“I'm feeling really good and I've got faith in what I've done over the past eight months and with what I've done in the lower grades over the last few weeks.”
But for James, a 19-year-old Bilambil junior, it is his first crack at the big time after several strong performances as captain of the Titans' NYC team.
“It gives you a boost when you see a young fella, particularly a local boy, making his NRL debut,” Cartwright said of James who is on a media ban “so he can concentrate on the big game”.
“And to see the hard work Luke has put in and continues to do back at Seagulls week in, week out (on the recovery path), he deserves a berth.
“Opportunity has presented itself and I'm sure they'll take advantage of it.”
O'Dwyer's long-awaited return could not have been more timely, with partner Kara giving birth to their first child, a boy named Jax Ryan O'Dwyer, yesterday morning at John Flynn Hospital.
Named after O'Dwyer's brother Ryan, who passed away from leukemia, Jax was born at 6.28am weighing 3.6kg and the proud father could hardly contain his excitement in a double celebration.
“It was unreal,” he said.
“Kara has done really well and I'm so proud of her ... it's been a big week for everyone.
“Kara was getting a bit stressed yesterday when nothing was happening with the baby and with the game tomorrow night, but everything worked out really well in the end.”
The new-look Titans kick off against Manly tonight at 7.30pm.