Freak injury sidelines Titans star
GOLD Coast forward Kevin Proctor has been sidelined by a freak injury that has opened the door for returning Titan Will Matthews to present his case for a Round 1 call-up.
Proctor has been rubbed out of contact training for a fortnight after copping a heavy knock to his throat.
The Kiwi Test star was absent from Wednesday's high intensity opposed session which was officiated by NRL referees.
The throat injury is not believed to be serious, like the one that ended the career of Newcastle utility Rory Kostjasyn, but Proctor has been sidelined as a precaution.
Titans coach Garth Brennan ran his side through a physical session on Wednesday where emerging forward Keegan Hipgrave pulled off a number of big tackles.
One player looking to make the most of his opportunity was Matthews, who has returned to the Titans following six years at the Dragons.
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Matthews, 29, was at the Titans in the club's inaugural season in 2007 and made his NRL debut in 2008 before heading to St George-Illawarra in 2012.
He featured in Proctor's position on the right edge on Wednesday before copping a knock to his ribs early and sitting out the remainder of the session.
"It got pretty intense towards the end," he said.
"The refs came and the boys got stuck in. It made it more game related.
"Kevvie's been injured so I've been filling in the back row. If I can get a crack anywhere in the team I will be happy."
Matthews played 33 NRL matches for the Titans before being squeezed out of the Gold Coast as the club went on a major recruitment drive during its wooden spoon season in 2011.
The northern NSW product played 60 matches for the Dragons but only made one appearance last year after being injured in the pre-season.
He signed a two-year deal with English Super League club Widnes last year before reneging when the Titans opportunity arose.
"I just wanted to be back close to family," Matthews said.
"I had signed a contract at Widnes. Thankfully they were pretty helpful and understood that it was for family reasons we wanted to move back to the Gold Coast.
"I think I'm a pretty honourable person, so to go back on what I'd already signed was massive for me. I didn't make the decision lightly.
"I knew in the back of my mind and my heart that was the right thing to do because I don't think we would have lasted the two years over there."
Matthews is one of a host of players with Gold Coast roots who are now at the Titans under Brennan.
And he believes the talent-rich region has enough players to deliver success to the Titans.
"I can see what Garth is trying to do," he said.
"There are a lot of guys here that are locals. Garth's got a big emphasis on trying to keep the local juniors around, which is something the club went away from a little bit.
"They were buying players instead of focusing on what they already had. To grow a strong club you need to focus on your juniors.
"There was that year (2011) they signed a fair few players from other clubs. I played under-20s here so I knew there was a lot of good talent in that team that they weren't using. They let it slip.
"Garth is doing a good job with implementing that now."
Origin prop Jarrod Wallace was heavily involved in Wednesday's session after returning from off-season ankle surgery but hooker Nathan Peats (shoulder) was on restricted contact.