Justin Holbrook has warned his Gold Coast players not to get embroiled in a tit-for-tat battle with Canterbury rivals seeking revenge on Tino Vaaswamalewe in favor of Matt Burton.
The case of Fa’asuamaleaui and Burton’s State of Origin made headlines again this week, as Tevita Pangai vowed to protect his Bulldogs half-back.
Canterbury and NSW players were furious when Fa’asuamaleaui grabbed Burton at an obstacle at Origin III, with Queensland star Dane Gagai throwing a raft of punches to Burton’s head.
But Holbrooke said on Saturday he was disappointed that the issue came to light in the run-up to the Round 19 match, and insisted there should be no impact flowing from Origin into club football.
“We just have to make sure that we maintain our discipline,” Holbrooke said.
“It was blown too far. It was an incident in Origin, it was unraveling a fight.
Suddenly it turned into a battle of bulldogs against titans.
“I’m a bit disappointed, I know we’re looking at different ways to promote games, but I don’t think that’s the right answer.
“I don’t know how you can get it back the way the game is played these days, that can’t happen. They can try whatever they like, we’ll just play football.”
Burton received at least good news on Saturday, as his main offensive lineman Josh Ado Carr was on his way to recovering from an ankle injury and playing at Accor Stadium.
Declan Casey will play as a defensive back COVID-19-missed Jake Avrello, impacting his return to the Bulldogs’ No. 1 shirt.
The Gold Coast team is in dire need of finding some form.
Losing on Sunday would put them at risk of staying at the bottom of the ladder, while Holbrook defensive coach Jim Dimock was dismissed earlier this month.
Holbrook once again cited his team’s inexperience as part of their problems, having let the likes of Jamal Fogarty, Ash Taylor and Mitch Reign go at the end of last year.
The Titans under pressure boss has identified the bitch as the area the club needs to boost for next year, with Aaron Booth set to start there again on Sunday and Erin Clark to participate in the bench lockout.
“We have to keep looking seriously at that area,” Holbrooke said.
“We said a few weeks ago that we wanted Erin back in that modern-day lock role.
“We have Boothi and he is old but young in experience.
“We need to strengthen that in the long term, and Toby (Sexton), Jayden (Campbell) and AJ (Brimson) will help.