Titans million-dollar-man Ash Taylor could miss the opening month of the Telstra Premiership with coach Garth Brennan unlikely to risk further injury ahead of a demanding travel schedule over the next three weeks.
The Titans begin their three-week road trip against the Sharks on Saturday afternoon in Sydney and then return a week later to face the in-form Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium. Gold Coast then have just five days to prepare for the Warriors in round four, heading straight to Auckland from Sydney following their clash with South Sydney.
Described as a "week-to-week" proposition earlier in the week when it was confirmed that Taylor had suffered a quadriceps tendon injury, Brennan gave every indication on Friday that his star halfback will be put in cotton wool until he has completely recovered.
"I won't rush Ash," Brennan confirmed.
"It's a tendon injury, which can reoccur quite easily. It's something that I have spoken to the doctor about quite a bit.
"Ash is champing at the bit, he wants to run and get back out there and play some footy but we've got to be smart about it.
"If we rush him too early and he does it again then he's going to have a season that we don't want from Ash where he is going to be in one week and then out for three or four.
"We'll make sure he ticks every box before he comes back."
Sharks v Titans - Round 2
The extended absence of Taylor and the Achilles strain suffered by five-eighth Tyrone Roberts opens the door for former Storm half Ryley Jacks and 20-year-old livewire AJ Brimson to stake a permanent claim in the Titans' halves.
Jacks played 25 games for the Storm over the past two seasons and Brennan is confident he will provide the direction that they lacked in their 21-0 loss to the Raiders in round one.
"This year we're fortunate enough that we do have some quality to call from and to call on Ryley Jacks after having two of your halfbacks out, he's a handy replacement to have," said Brennan, who will take Mitch Rein to Sydney as 18th man before making a final call on the makeup of his team.
"He's come to the Gold Coast Titans to try and secure a regular NRL berth and on Saturday he gets his opportunity. From there it's up to him to hang onto it.
"He's played with three of the greatest players of all time, he's played under one of the greatest coaches of all time and he's been in a great system.
"I'm actually excited to see how Ryley is going to perform on the weekend."
The opportunity to step in and take ownership of the team has not been lost on Jacks after the 26-year-old guided Tweed Seagulls to two straight wins to open the Intrust Super Cup season.
A Titans fan as a youngster growing up in Brisbane, Jacks admitted to feeling nervous ahead of his club debut but ready to step into the breach.
"I'm definitely nervous for this week. It's quite a big deal for me to be debuting at a club. It feels like I'm making my NRL debut again," said Jacks, who only signed with the Titans the week after the Storm lost the grand final to the Roosters.
"I'm excited to be putting the Titans jersey on for the first time. It's a team I followed as a kid, watching Scotty Prince and Preston Campbell play so it's going to be an honour to put the jersey on.
"I don't know what's going to happen next week, one of them could be back or they might not be.
"I'm going to treat it like this is my one chance.
"I might only get one game this year. That's the way I'll treat it and give it my all on Saturday.
"After playing for a couple of years down in Melbourne, getting to learn off those really good organisers down there, hopefully I can bring that to the team this week."
Back-rower Kevin Proctor knows the intricacies of the Storm system better than most and said it is the ability of the playmakers to communicate that Jacks needs to bring into the team on Saturday.
"At the Storm they all know how to communicate really well. Jacksy doesn't shut up on the field and that's what you want from your halves," said Proctor. "Directing everyone around the field and telling everyone what to do.
"He's the little general and probably learnt off 'Coops' [Cooper Cronk] who is probably one of the best in the game.
"We'll be listening to him this weekend and hopefully he's nice and loud."