Gold Coast NRL stars Aidan Sezer and Steve Michaels will spend the next week rehabbing injuries picked up during their successful trip to New Zealand.
Both players suffered hamstring strains at training and were ruled out of the Titans’ 36-18 trial win over the Warriors at North Harbour Stadium on Sunday.
The news became even worse for coach John Cartwright when boom prop Ryan James left the field after 15 minutes with a shoulder knock and did not return.
The Titans will remain in New Zealand to prepare for the Auckland Nines next week but Cartwright said he would find out in the next 48 hours whether the trio will be available for selection.
“It’s too early in the week to know how long those boys will be out for,” he said.
“We’ll get them assessed by the trainer tomorrow and go from there.”
Matt Elliott’s Warriors featured 13 players named for the inaugural short-form tournament at Eden Park, but were still without star recruit Sam Tomkins, Shaun Johnson and Jason Bukuya.
Among that bunch was NYC speedster Tuimoala Lolohea, who impressed with a brace of long-range tries that gave the Warriors an 18-4 lead after 22 minutes.
“Tui did all the eye-catching stuff, but a number of our young guys really stood up during their first crack at first-grade football,” Elliott said.
“It was really pleasing to see how those guys reacted when being exposed to a really experienced bunch of players.”
Without Greg Bird, Nate Myles, Dave Taylor, David Mead and Ashley Harrison, the Titans fought back admirably with Albert Kelly firmly involved.
The crafty halfback showed no signs of his troublesome left foot when he cut the Warriors’ lead to just two points by dancing around three defenders to dot down next to the posts.
The visitors then punished the Warriors for failing to secure a towering kick, with recruit Maurice Blair diving over to regain the lead in the third quarter.
Fellow recruit Kalifa Faifailoa scored next to extend the advantage before Sezer’s replacement, 19-year-old Christian Hazard, and Matthew Beddow put the result beyond doubt.
Paul Carter proved his switch from the back-row to hooker could be a permanent one when he opened the scoring and continuously made valuable metres from dummy half.
There were, however, ominous signs as Warriors prop Sebastine Ikahihifo walked through the goal-line defence early on. But there was little else to cheer about for the healthy home crowd that made the trip to Auckland’s North Shore for the match.
Elliott admitted his side were hampered by basic errors but maintained they had benefited from the experience.