Chris Hickey
Chris Hickey Mark Nolan

Will Chambers won’t play

LISMORE’S big night of rugby union has been robbed of one of its drawcards with Queensland Reds centre Will Chambers withdrawing to nurse a back injury.

The former Melbourne Storm flyer had been training strongly in preparation for his first hit-out in a Reds jumper but will now watch from the sidelines after straining a muscle in his lower back.

The decision rested with new coach Ewen McKenzie, who opted for safety.

“It’s purely a precaution with a tough season ahead, but we expect him to be right for the following trial,” McKenzie said.

Lock Rob Simmons will now come into the squad of 30 after recovering from an ankle injury faster than expected.

Meanwhile, Waratahs coach Chris Hickey has dispelled any fears the match will be cast off as nothing more than a glorified training run.

“While winning isn’t the primary function there will still be plenty of fireworks, this is NSW v Queensland after all,” Hickey said.

“The reality is, whether it’s a Super 14 match or a trial, this is a fierce interstate rivalry and there is a scoreboard at Oakes Oval so this match will be competitive, no doubt.”

Hickey to do his bit for Dolphins

The Far North Coast Dolphins will be reminded of who and what they are playing for when presented their jerseys by Waratahs coach Chris Hickey.

In a symbolic gesture, players present will be initiated by a past mentor in a bid to kick start their assault on the NSW Country Championship with a win over the Gold Coast Breakers – the curtain-raiser to Hickey’s Waratahs taking on the Queensland Reds.

Hickey coached the Dolphins from 1990-93 when they last won a Country Championship and he is as keen as anyone to see the region return to past glory.

“All my memories from that period are very fond memories, it is a great rugby community,” Hickey said.

“There is certainly some talent around the region, but it is a big job to manage. Hopefully Dave (Arthur) and the boys can put together a good program and get Far North Coast rugby back on the map.”

While it is a long way back to the top – FNC finished last in the 2009 Country Championship – Hickey is sure his old team has all the ingredients to make good.

“They have the talent, a good support base and some great rugby grounds, so if the management can get everything running smoothly there is no reason Far North Coast can’t be competitive at the Country Championships,” he said.

The second year Super 14 coach hopes that having the Waratahs in town will set the tone for current representative players and provide inspiration for others.

“Sometimes you feel a long way from Sydney up here, but there are plenty of Waratahs supporters so it is great to be able to bring a game like this to the people,” he said.

FNC plays its first match of 2010 against the Gold Coast Breakers at Oakes Oval, Lismore, tomorrow. Kick-off is 5.15pm and tickets will be available at the gate.

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