Titans duo Fifita, Campbell out until April: Lenihan

Joel Gould |

Gold Coast forward David Fifita is not expected to play until round four or five of the NRL.
Gold Coast forward David Fifita is not expected to play until round four or five of the NRL.

The Gold Coast are set to be without key players David Fifita and Jayden Campell until round four or five, but assistant coach Jim Lenihan says they have quality replacements.

Lenihan confirmed to AAP that Queensland second-rower Fifita (pectoral tear) and fullback Campbell (dislocated patella) were progressing well from surgery but will not be available to start the year.

“I’d say it will be round four or five at a minimum before they are both back,” Lenihan said.

“It is a long season and there is no need to try and squeeze them back in a week or two earlier, but their injuries will dictate when they are available.

“They certainly haven’t done any team training with the group. Dave has just come back this week and will need a lot of training under his belt before he is ready for games.

“JC (Campbell) has been doing his own rehab running and hopefully is not far off joining in with the group.”

The Titans, who have the bye in round two, may not see the duo until April 7 against North Queensland in Townsville. 

Lenihan said Keano Kini was on track to start the season against St George Illawarra at No.1 while Klese Haas and Jacob Alick would push for a back-row position to partner Beau Fermor, who is returning from an ACL tear that kept him out of the entire 2023 season.

With Queensland representative AJ Brimson set to play centre this year instead of fullback, the door is open for 19-year-old Kini to start at No.1.

Kini played six NRL games in 2023 and has plenty of flair.

“Keano Kini has been training well so he’ll probably get to play fullback at the start of the year,” Lenihan said.

“There is no doubt Keano is a good young player with a big future in the NRL but he is probably a work in progress at the moment. He’s had a big off-season and a few NRL games at the start of the year will be good for him.

“Beau Fermor will be one of the back-rowers but the other will depend a lot on the trials. It is probably between Klese Haas and Jacob Alick and there are other options.”

Haas, the 21-year-old younger brother of Broncos prop Payne Haas, has played 17 NRL games for the Titans and is a solid defender with promising line-running abilities.

Alick, 24, debuted for the Titans last year and has played for Papua New Guinea at the 2022 World Cup. He suffered a minor ankle injury at training recently that ruled him out of the All Stars clash in Townsville, but is a player Lenihan rates highly. 

“Jacob has done a long apprenticeship in the Queensland Cup and is another work in progress,” Lenihan said.

“He is one of those guys who has matured a bit later.”