How fans can get footy tickets
QUEENSLAND footy fans have received golden news with crowds allowed back at games from this weekend with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announcing on Wednesday morning that crowds of 2000 will be allowed to attend stadiums.
The NRL's Gold Coast Titans will become the first Queensland team to welcome back larger crowds when they host St George Illawarra at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The AFL's Brisbane Lions will host West Coast at the Gabba on Saturday night, the Gold Coast Suns will be home to the Adelaide Crows at Metricon Stadium on Sunday which will be followed by the Fremantle-Port Adelaide game also at Metricon Stadium on Sunday night.
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The Titans will allocate 1500 of the maximum 2000 seats to members, with the longest-serving members to be given first crack at securing a seat.
The remaining 500 tickets will be reserved for sponsors, corporate supporters and the club's football department.
The club was on Wednesday morning finalising the ticket ballot process, which is expected to begin on Thursday.
The Brisbane Lions will be Queensland's first AFL club to have fans back through the gates and they are expected to allocate 1900 tickets to sponsors and members, with only 100 reserved for the general public.
The Gold Coast Suns are expected to give members first crack at securing a ticket.
"This is obviously great news for the Titans and the NRL, but for fans of sports across Queensland," said Titans CEO Steve Mitchell.
"The past few months have been tough on everyone, and the hard work done by the NRL in getting our competition restarted gave us a feeling that life was finally returning to normal.
"This is a great reward for Titans fans who have been unable to get along to support their team at games, and obviously a big boost for our playing group as well to be able to run onto the field and see and hear the support they have from the Titans Legion.
"There will still be a number of public health restrictions and protocols in place at the venue to ensure the health and safety of our fans.
"But this is certainly a positive milestone for us, the NRL and sports fans in Queensland, and the Titans are delighted to be the first Queensland team to be back playing in front of our supporters this weekend."
The Brisbane Broncos will play in NSW on Thursday night against Newcastle at Central Coast Stadium while the North Queensland Cowboys are away to Wests Tigers at Campbelltown Stadium on Saturday.
The Broncos return home to Suncorp Stadium on Saturday week to host the Titans in a local derby while the Cowboys' first home game with a crowd since Round 1 will be against Newcastle on Saturday week.
The Cowboys have only played one game with a crowd at their new Townsville stadium and captain Jason Taumalolo said he was looking forward to having fans back in the stands.
"The crowds can change momentum in games," Taumalolo said.
"We go out there and play in front of big crowds in Townsville and they give us that extra energy when we've got our backs against the wall.
"The sooner we get support into our stadiums, the better for the game, players and teams it will be.
"The crowds help swing momentum and give the boys energy at times."
WE'RE NOT SOFT: TITANS VOW TO SHOCK NRL
By Travis Meyn
Queensland Origin star Jai Arrow has hit out at suggestions Titans players are lazy and soft amid fears the Gold Coast's defensive demons could deliver a second consecutive wooden spoon.
The Titans go into Saturday's clash against the Dragons at Suncorp Stadium dead last on percentages, having conceded 161 points this season in a continuation of the defensive dramas that have plagued their last two campaigns.
In the last 49 games since the start of 2018, the Titans have leaked a whopping 1394 points at 28 per game, a defensive fragility that triggered the sacking of Garth Brennan last year in their wooden-spoon collapse.
Under new coach Justin Holbrook, the Titans have overhauled their defensive structures, but the reality is the Gold Coast have haemorrhaged more than 30 points in three of five contests this season.
Stung by their 32-12 loss to Souths last week, the Titans are determined to hit back against the Dragons at Suncorp and Arrow insists Gold Coast players do not have an attitude problem.
"We train as hard as anyone in the NRL - if not harder," said Arrow, the Titans' Mr Consistency.
"The coach has said he wants us to fight for results.
"We have shown some glimpses (of promise) here and there and rugby league is a frustrating game, sometimes things don't go your way.
"The mentality Justin and the coaches have brought in, they are making training sessions competitive and everyone is fighting for a spot.
"The Dragons had a good win on the weekend, while we leaked 32 points and it just isn't good enough.
"There's no real excuse, we have to have a defensive focus and hopefully we don't leak too many points this week.
"When you are losing you can get frustrated, but I have faith in the squad that we can turn things around."
The Titans will be boosted by the mid-season transfer of Tigers utility back Corey Thompson, who will make his Gold Coast debut against the Dragons.
A grand-final winger at Canterbury in 2014, Thompson has scored 34 tries in 79 NRL games and Arrow believes the 30-year-old will bring some spark to the Titans backline.
"I have watched him play over the years and he is super competitive," he said.
"He is always on the ball and he always seems to be in the right place at the right time.
"We are lucky to have him and hopefully he can bring some attacking flair and he is good under the high ball as well.
"Hopefully Corey can learn our plays and defensive structures quickly."
NO PRESSURE: COWS EYE FINALS AMID INJURY PAIN
By Travis Meyn
Paul Green insists he isn't feeling any pressure to lead North Queensland out of a form slump and the finals remain a realistic goal for the Cowboys in 2020.
The Cowboys will be without star players Michael Morgan (shoulder), Valentine Holmes (ankle), Jordan McLean (calf) and John Asiata (knee) when they meet Wests Tigers at Campbelltown Stadium on Saturday.
The injury blows are bad news for the Cowboys after suffering back-to-back defeats to the lowly Sharks and Warriors over the past two weeks.
While Morgan and Asiata will be sidelined for at least another month, Holmes and McLean are only expected to miss one-two games.
After missing the finals over the past two years, big things were expected of the Cowboys in 2020.
They are sitting eighth on the ladder after five rounds with a 2-3 record, but are facing a daunting six weeks with games against NRL premiership heavyweights the Knights (home), Eels (away), Roosters (home), Panthers (away), Sea Eagles (home) and Raiders (home) to come.
Green said the finals were still North Queensland's goal despite a quarter of the shortened season now completed and the Cowboys battling injuries.
"We are still aiming for the top eight," he said.
"We want to play finals. It's been a couple of years since we played it. I know there's still plenty of motivation among the club.
"We've put some faith in some young guys. It's been a bit of a changing of the guard.
"Where we struggled to score points last year, that's not the case this year. We need to work a bit harder on the other side of the footy and we'll put ourselves in a lot more games."
Green will hand winger Connelly Lemuelu his NRL debut against the Tigers following the shift of Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow to fullback to cover Holmes.
New Zealand-born Lemuelu came through the ranks at the Tigers and Bulldogs before securing a contract at the Cowboys.
Rising prop Peter Hola has been promoted to the bench for his first NRL appearance of the season after playing five matches last year.
Lock Jason Taumalolo will captain the Cowboys in the absence of Morgan and McLean.
Green said he wasn't focused on the daunting run of games approaching.
"I don't really look at it like that, it's about who we've got next week," he said.
"You've got to get your head down and prepare for who you're playing next.
"We've got a couple of injuries but hopefully they won't be too long.
"In the meantime we're giving some young guys some opportunities which will put us in good stead down the track.
"All we're worrying about is next week."