ORANGE Emus start their 2014 campaign on Saturday in the toughest of fashions, taking on Randwick colts at Endeavour Oval.
Fresh off a lung-busting pre-season, Emus coach Andrew Logan said the trial would test his troops to the limit.
“It’ll be a great hit-out fitness wise,” Logan said.
“Randwick will be a good side. They’ll be well-drilled and good technically, along with being young and fit. It’s probably a tougher trial than we might have wanted first up, but the boys should handle it.”
Logan said he had two goals for the trial - to integrate the club’s new players, and to see combinations established in key positions.
“It’s a great way to see different guys in different positions,” he said.
“Someone like Sam Chamberlain, who has put in a huge off-season, or Rob Sorben. Rob’s a big, fast guy who has played a lot of wing and 13.
“I want to see a few of the backline passing moves we’ve been practising come off, and work on a few combinations. Hopefully our defence stays strong and doesn’t get lazy at all as well. Points are a by-product of those things, I’m not too worried about the result.”
The greens will be without five-eighth Tobias Cunynghame and star lock Nick Hughes-Clapp, who returns to the club after toiling for several seasons in the CSU Bathurst and Warringah Rats respective tight fives.
“It’s not ideal to be missing such an important tight forward, and our starting [five-eighth],” Logan explained.
“But even so, it gives us a chance to trial some other players in those positions.”
One of those players will be former CSU Bathurst, Central West and NSW Country colts five-eighth Sam Ryan, who joined Emus during the off-season after moving to Orange for work.
Ryan boasts a competitiveness as fiery as his hair, along with an astute tactical kicking game and a surprising turn of pace. The 21-year-old is set to add more spark to an already elusive backline.
“We definitely want to see Sammy play 10,” Logan said, before adding Ryan’s most likely position come round one will be fullback.
“We have an advantage in the amount of non-specialised depth we have. Nigel Staniforth will probably also play a bit of 10. It’s great to have those guys who can play 10, 12, 13 and 15 comfortably.”
Emus’ second and third grade sides will combine with the greens’ colts in a trial against CSU Bathurst’s combined lower grades, kicking off at 2.30pm. The top grade kicks off at 5pm.