ORANGE Hawks captain-coach Tim Mortimer will use tonight’s Bathurst knockout opener against Bathurst St Pat’s as the perfect chance to solve the two blues’ halves puzzle.
Following the departure of Western Division halfback Scott Rosser over the off season, Mortimer has used 2013 rake Sandon Gibbs-O’Neill in the pivot spot in the club’s only trial against Belrose throughout the 2014 pre-season.
But, with Gibbs-O’Neill set to miss the knockout, Mortimer will use wiry half Matt Fuller in the number seven jumper while both Joe Lasagavibau and Todd Barrow will spend time at five-eighth.
Set to watch the club’s Bathurst knockout opener from the stands in a bid to get a touch of pre-season perspective, Mortimer says nutting out combinations ahead of the round one blockbuster against CYMS was vital.
“I’ve said it before, but I’m just using the pre-season as a way of working out our new combinations,” Mortimer said, himself weighing up a possible positional switch from five-eighth.
“Hopefully we can get our defence right as well. This kind of football, it can be enticing to throw the ball around but I want the boys to play controlled footy.”
Along with a Van Veen-less Lithgow, Bathurst St Pat’s is one of the few Group 10 sides to have a genuine change of culture.
Gone are long time Saints Tim Holman, Jeremy Gordon and Zac Merritt, and while admitting the Bathurst club has lost of fair bit of class, Mortimer wasn’t looking any further than his own backyard ahead of round one.
“I’m just concentrating on us,” he said. “We’ve had a little bit of a disrupted pre-season and I’m concentrating on finding the best squad possible for our first grade side ahead of round one.
“This knockout as well as our last trial against Coogee will show me those players capable of handling it.”
CYMS tackle a new-look Blayney Bears in their opening game of the knockout at 9.15pm tonight.
Hawks play St Pat’s from 8.30pm, with the match played over two, 20-minute halves, at Bathurst’s Carrington Park.
The semi-finals and finals get underway tomorrow.