There should be plenty of fireworks around the base of the scrum at Oakes Oval, Lismore, on Saturday night, with the Gold Coast
There should be plenty of fireworks around the base of the scrum at Oakes Oval, Lismore, on Saturday night, with the Gold Coast

Stars come out

By ADRIAN MILLER and AAP

IT WILL certainly be the clash of the Titans in Lismore on Saturday night after Parramatta Eels coach Michael Hagan announced an almost full-strength squad to play the Gold Coast at Oakes Oval.

The Titans announced weeks ago they would be trialling their first-grade squad in Lismore, but Parramatta have joined the party and will field their strongest available first-grade squad after sending out a virtual reserve grade combination for their opening trial win over Cronulla last weekend.

Halves Brett Finch and Tim Smith will get their first hit-out as a new combination at the scrumbase, while the inclusion of Jarryd Hayne, Ben Smith, Eric Grothe and Luke Burt gives the Eels' backline a more familiar look.

Nathan Hindmarsh will miss the remaining trials as he continues his recovery from toe surgery while Timana Tahu (hand) will also miss the clash, but should be right for the NRL season opener against the Warriors.

While there are big match-ups all over the park, the backs feature the most interesting of them.

Competition young guns Scott Prince, who spearheaded the Wests Tigers last year and to a premiership in 2005, and Smith will square off in what will no doubt be a highlight.

Finch, who left the Sydney Roosters in the off-season, will line up against former Cronulla rookie of the year Matt Hilder, making the shift to the back row.

Eels centres Ben Smith and Joel Reddy will be keen to 'welcome' former Wallaby Mat Rogers back to the fold, while star wingers Jarryd Hayne and Eric Grothe will have their work cut out against Kiw international Jake Webster.

The nimble Preston Campbell (Gold Coast) will shift from the halves to fullback, the position he began his career, with Luke Burt his opposite number.

The Eels' pack will contain a host of international, Origin and Country stars with Nathan Cayless, Mark Riddell, Daniel Wagon, Chad Robinson, Ian Hindmarsh and crowd favourite Fuifui Moimoi packing down.

The Titans will feature Australian representative Luke Bailey, Origin star Brad Meyers and young stars Anthony Laffranchi and Luke Swain in their starting pack.

With match-ups like these, it's no wonder the Lismore footy public is salivating.



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