Extra punch up the middle will boost Casino's chances
CASINO lock Theo Hippi will return from a hamstring injury when the Cougars take on Tweed Coast in the NRRRL minor semi-final at Queen Elizabeth Park, Casino, tomorrow.
Hippi will deliver extra punch up the middle and take pressure off the other forwards with his acceleration and strong carries which help get the sets going from their own end.
However, they will be without centre David Jacky, who was injured in the 40-6 drubbing from Murwillumbah in the qualifying final last week-end.
A loss would put Casino out in straight sets from third while the fifth-placed Raiders would roll on in a bid for back-to-back premierships.
"David has broken a bone in his hand but Theo will be right to go,” Cougars president Geoff Scofield said.
"We've missed him and he's a player who can really get us on the front foot.
"We just didn't turn up last week-end; our forward pack is still really young. They'll grow an extra leg with every final they play and we'll be a lot better this week.”
The Cougars' changes include lock Hayden Pratt moving to hooker and winger Lachlan West named for his second game in the top grade.
Winger Rodney Collins moves to the centres while hooker Daine Petty will come off the bench.
"We didn't have a great lead-in to the finals with a bye in the last round,” Scofield said.
"Lachlan West made his debut in the second-last round from Under-18s and he scored a hat-trick that day so he deserves another opportunity.
"Tweed Coast defend well and are pretty physical; the boys will have to be up for it.”
Kick-off is 2.45pm.
In other games, Casino plays Cudgen in reserve grade at 1.10pm while Byron Bay takes on Marist Brothers in Under-18s at 11.45am.
Cudgen plays Tweed Coast in the ladies league tag at 10.30am.
HOW THEY LINE UP
Casino: Fullback Noah King; wingers Denzel Dangerfield, Lachlan West; centres Brent Scott-Hall, Rodney Collins; five-eighth Trevor Bolt; halfback Roy Bell; props Josh Beech, Nick Morrissey; hooker Hayden Pratt; second-rowers Michael Schipp, Thomas Walker; lock Theo Hippi.
Tweed Coast: Fullback Guy Lanston; wingers Daryl Brooks, Brandon Mathews; centres Jimmy Armstrong, Dom Murray; five-eighth Olly Singh; halfback Harley Peachey; props Luke Toon, Daniel Ross; hooker Dan Willoughby; second-rowers Kalani Hensby, Chris Cameron; lock Jamie Donaldson.