He’s not far off but Gold Coast forward Bryce Cartwright’s delay in getting a medical exemption to returning to training has put his place in the Titans’ lineup in jeopardy.
Cartwright was granted an 11th-hour medical exemption last week allowing him to train with the Titans despite not having an influenza vaccination.
The 25-year-old was reportedly facing a $450,000 salary hit if he had been stood down by the club for refusing the jab on non-medical grounds.
The medical exemption came after earlier stating a moral objection to receiving the flu shot.
Both he and teammate Brian Kelly missed training with their teammates due to the situation, with Kelly receiving the shot last week to be cleared to train and play.
Titans coach Justin Holbrook said both players would need to prove next week they are at the same level as their teammates if they’re to be considered for selection for the NRL round-three clash against North Queensland in Townsville next Friday.
“Bryce has missed a full week and Brian Kelly actually missed the week before as well. So he’s missed two weeks,” Holbrook said.
“Obviously they trained while they were off. Bryce trained really hard so he’s not a million miles off where the group’s at.
“They’ll definitely come into play, whether or not they’ll be right for the game, I’m not sure yet. I’ll see how next week pans out.”
Regardless of Kelly or Cartwright’s eligibility, the Titans are set to take on the Cowboys with a much-changed line-up from the first two rounds of the competition.
Young fullback AJ Brimson is sidelined until at least August after a stress fracture in his back developed into a full fracture.
Holbrook is contemplating a backline reshuffle with new arrival Jamal Fogarty set to play at halfback while Ash Taylor shifts to five-eighth and Tyrone Roberts replaces Brimson in the No.1 jersey.
“It’s definitely probably a favoured option at the moment,” Holbrook said.
“We’ve still got a few more training sessions but with AJ being out a lot longer than we thought, obviously Phil Sami is good enough to play there, but we want to look at what’s best for our team.”