Depleted Trojans battle Pioneers
LENNOX HEAD begins its premiership defence against Wollongbar-Alstonville today but will have to do it the hard way with three top players in camp with the NSW Country team.
Captain Jeff Wilson, strike centre Sam Stewart and tight-head prop Matt Liddle were all drafted into the representative squad after impressing at the NSW Country Championships.
But coach Paul Jeffrey isn’t panicking; he says the club has the troops to cover for the missing personnel.
“There are plenty of blokes ready to step into the roles, we have had a few return, picked up a handy player from Sydney, and the guys who went away with the Far North Coast team have lifted since they returned,” Jeffrey said.
One of those who has come on since the FNC Dolphins won the Richardson Shield last month is young scrum-half Adam Gordon who will captain the side today.
“Adam has worked really hard on his game and added two or three metres to his pass either side,” Jeffrey said.
“That fact alone is a huge boost for the side as it gives us that much extra width in attack.”
Another big plus for the premiers is the addition of former Waratahs’ prop Phil Tyler, who covers the loss of Liddle.
But it is in the backfield where Jeffrey has spent much of his preparation for the match as he counts down to a Wollongbar-Alstonville barrage from the boot.
The Pioneers have retained Jerome McMurray at fly-half and the Trojans are expecting him to drive the ball into the corners at every opportunity.
“We have done a lot of work on our kick returns,” Jeffrey said.
“As soon as the draw came out we knew what we were in for, so I think we will be well prepared.”
“He loves a field goal so we will be putting the pressure on him for sure.”
The match will take place at Lyle Park, Wollongbar from 3:10pm today.
In other first grade matches:
Glen Paisley leads 2009 runners-up Lismore into battle against southern raiders Grafton; and Mick McGregor’s Ballina Seahorses play host to Southern Cross University. Casino has the bye. All matches kick-off at 3:10pm.
The Village competition also kicks-off today with a full round of matches.
Premiers, Bangalow host Iluka; Byron Bay travel to Murwillumbah; Evans River take on the visiting Mullumbimby; and Kyogle play Yamba at home.
TEAMS: PAGE 88