'Air Jordan' waiting in the wings
IT WILL be cold, wet and miserable when the Gold Coast Titans take on Wests Tigers at Campbelltown Sports Ground tonight.
But there is no place Jordan Atkins would rather be.
The 27-year-old flyer just wants to play footy.
But ever since he debuted – with four tries against North Queensland in round one in 2008 – the Stanthorpe Gremlins junior has been on the Rugby League roller-coaster.
One minute he was hailed as “Air Jordan” – the great white hope – the next he was struggling with form, confidence and a run of injuries.
And things haven’t changed.
On the eve of the Titans’ third-versus-fourth clash with the Tigers, Atkins was in Lismore running drills with kids in the rain.
The first-grade squad has already landed in Sydney, but for now Air Jordan is grounded.
An almost repaired dislocated knee has him out of action for now, but the theme is recurring.
A medial ligament tear kept him out of the Titans’ 2010 season opener, and with a host of outside backs waiting in the wings, it wouldn’t be until round seven that Atkins would get another crack.
In that match, against Manly, Atkins’ troublesome shoulder popped out.
Back to the sidelines.
Then after a month-long layoff, Atkins would return full of hope for the Burleigh Bears.
But the pattern continued with the dislocated knee.
The one-time Australian Universities representative was never going to be in the Titans’ strongest 13, but with all the injuries the club has had out wide, there is no doubt that he would be in the side now.
David Mead is gone for the season; Joseph Tomane is still battling a shoulder injury; Sam Tagataese likewise; and Esi Tonga is still making his way back to match fitness in Queensland Cup.
This month would have been Atkins’ chance to cement a spot in the side evidenced by the Titans line-up for tonight’s clash which sees another back-rower, Bodene Thompson, lining up in the centres, with back-up fullback William Zillman outside him on the wing.
But Atkins will just have to sit a watch patiently, waiting for the moment when Air Jordan can once again take flight.