Country pools its talents for early arrival in Dubbo after long haul

IN THE DEEP END: Country coach Trent Barrett with his squad shortly after arriving in Dubbo yesterday. PHOTO: Belinda Soole

IN THE DEEP END: Country coach Trent Barrett with his squad shortly after arriving in Dubbo yesterday. PHOTO: Belinda Soole

TRENT Barrett is hopeful his side’s arrival in Dubbo a day earlier than the City squad will be beneficial in the lead-up to Sunday’s City-Country clash at Apex Oval.

The former Australian five-eighth arrived in Dubbo with his squad yesterday and after getting off the bus, Barrett said it was a long trip but he was hoping the extra time together would pay off.

“It was a bit further than a few of the boys thought, it was a long trip but we’re here and having a little swim and recovery and then training in the morning,” he said.

“Hopefully [it helps], we’ll have a session nice and early  then have Friday off, train Saturday and game Sunday.”

It’s been a whirlwind few days for the squad with a number of changes made to the original 17 which was named on Sunday evening. 

Sharks speedster Michael Gordon as well as the St George Illawarra Dragons trio of Josh Dugan, Trent Merrin and Tyson Frizell were all ruled out through injury. 

Titans duo David Mead and Kevin Gordon were called in, along with Newcastle back-rower Robbie Rochow while Shaun Fensom was named as the new 18th man.

Despite all the changes, Barrett said it will have little impact on his plans.

“The players are pretty good, they’re used to things chopping and changing and the guys we brought in are all playing really well, especially the Titans boys, so it’s not an issue,” he said.

The coach said he’s pleased with the efforts shown in the squad’s first training session together on Tuesday afternoon and was impressed by the young players and new faces in the side.

“I was really happy with what we did, we’ve got a lot of debutantes and guys who haven’t played together before but it’s an important week and they’re keen to play,” he said.

The game is shaping up as possibly one of the most important City-Country clashes in some time with question marks over a number of positions in the NSW Origin squad. 

Mitchell Pearce looks certain to retain his number seven jersey but there is strong conjecture over who will join him.

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