COUNTRY coach Trent Barrett is banking on his younger and less experienced players to get the job done when they clash with City in Dubbo on Sunday.
After all the fun of meeting locals and involving themselves in the Dubbo community, the players will be focused on the task at hand when they run out on to Apex Oval for the annual City-Country rugby league clash.
Barrett is aware he doesn’t have the big names at his disposal that City counterpart Brad Fittler does, but the former Australian five-eighth is still feeling confident after seeing his side come together at training during the week.
“I was really happy with what we did, we’ve got a lot of debutants and guys who haven’t played together before, but it’s an important week and they’re keen to play,” Barrett said.
“It’s a huge game, especially in the halves and, with Robbie Farah and Mick Ennis injured, the hookers will all want to have a big game and it’s a real opportunity for a lot of blokes.
“It’s a stepping stone for their rep careers and they’re looking forward to it.”
While Barrett has his side prepared, the occasion isn’t lost on skipper Beau Scott, who said earlier this week his team was well aware of what was on the line.
“This is a genuine trial for Origin, everyone knows that so everyone is raring to go and we’ll put our best foot forward,” Scott said.
Fittler’s men trained on Thursday night and had a day off yesterday, with the preparations to ramp up today when they have their final hitout prior to the match.
The coach was impressed with what he saw from a squad working together for the first time.
“They seemed to click really well but you expect that from players when they get to this level,” Fittler said.
“Country are in the same boat I’d say. Some of the guys haven’t played much footy together but they’re all good players so they know what is expected.”
Although many pundits have his side as raging favourites for the contest, City skipper Ryan Hoffman said he knew better than to underestimate the Country side.
“These games are never easy and I think both sides are full of quality,” Hoffman said.
“We’re going to have a big crowd against us and that will fire Country up to have that support.”