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3 days ago
The Bulldogs should brace themselves for snubbed Gold Coast halfback Scott Prince to have a blinder in Friday night's NRL clash at Skilled Park.
That's the opinion of Titans back-rowers Mark Minichiello and Ashley Harrison in the wake of Prince's shock omission from the Queensland State of Origin squad.
"He's copped it on the chin and there's nothing he can do about it," Minichiello said.
"He was running around training like he usually does today ordering us around.
"He'll be fine and I think he'll turn out a great performance tomorrow night."
Maroons selectors named Brisbane fullback Karmichael Hunt out of position at five-eighth instead of Prince in a decision that has polarised opinion in the Sunshine State.
On the positive side, the Titans will benefit enormously from having their playmaker on board against the struggling Bulldogs, who have posted just one win from their past five games.
"I think he'll play well," Harrison said.
"It's not the first time he hasn't been picked in a (representative) side and he's responded great the other times.
"He's a professional and I'm sure he'll do the job tomorrow night."
In a further boost to the Gold Coast, inspirational prop Luke Bailey returns from a broken wrist to help offset the loss of workhorse Anthony Laffranchi to the Blues camp.
Winger Smith Samau will make his first NRL appearance this year in place of Matt Petersen, who was recently granted a release to play for English Super League club Wakefield.
The Titans, coming off a bye, are averaging close to 30 points per game at Skilled Park where they remain undefeated after five matches.
Bulldogs coach Steve Folkes told AAP he expected New Zealand back-rower Sonny Bill Williams (quad) and fullback Luke Patten (back) to be cleared to play but five-eighth Ben Roberts (hamstring) remained in doubt.
Williams was outstanding in the Kiwis' loss to Australia in the Centenary Test and was sorely missed on the weekend when Penrith smashed the Bulldogs 30-4.
"It's always good to play against the best in the game but I'm not really concentrating too much on him," City Origin forward Minichiello said about Williams.
"I'm just thinking about my own game. If he's in front of me, and I think he's on my side, we'll just go at it as usual.
"He's got a great off-load so we have to be ready for that."
No Gold Coast team has ever beaten the Bulldogs but one-third of the way through the season, the Sydney outfit are on shaky ground and looking vulnerable, even with Williams fit and healthy.
They've conceded 28 points or more on five occasions in their eight games this year and have lost both their encounters away from ANZ Stadium.