TWO late injury withdrawals won’t affect the Western Rams in their Country Rugby League Regional Tier 2 Championship clash with Greater Northern at Singleton today, according to captain-coach Dennis Moran.
Wellington Cowboys star Justin Toomey-White and talented Orange CYMS back Ben McAlpine have been ruled out through shoulder and groin injuries respectively, while Coonamble’s Brad Pickering has also left the squad due to a shoulder injury.
Dubbo CYMS’ Jyie Chapman will start the match in the centres, Mudgee try-scoring machine Corin Smith has been called up to the bench, while Bathurst Panthers’ Blake Seager comes into the side to start in the second row.
“We’ve had two late call ups but they’re guys who have played well at Group level,” Moran said of Smith and Seager.
“It won’t disturb things too much, they’re key players out but I know these boys will step up.”
Moran said there was a positive feeling in his camp despite the changes and said the players’ attitudes will go a long way to deciding today’s match against the Tigers.
“It just takes that extra step and extra motivation, the boys have got to want to be there and we know they want to be part of it,” he said.
“If we play to our potential anything can happen, we’ve just got lock down what we’ve been working on.”
With very little knowledge of today’s opponents, who were Country Championship semi-finalists last season, Moran said the focus was purely on his own squad and, with an intimidating forward pack at his disposal, the coach said it will be up to them to lead the way.
Group 10 workhorses Ron Lawrence and Brent Seager will start in the front row, while much will also be expected of former NRL player Jack Afamasaga at lock.
“They are big boys but they play well and I’m looking forward to that,” Moran said.
“They can play a bit of footy too, not a lot of front rowers can pass the ball so we want them to use their skills.”
With such a big focus on teamwork Moran said his side is more than capable of going one better than last year, when the Rams exited the Championship at the first round, if they work together and play the match at their tempo
“Everyone has just got to move forward, don’t let anyone go alone and ball control is important too, we’ve got to hold the ball and give it to them on our terms,” he said.
“We’re all the same capability, there’s lots of experience in the side but we’ve got to bring those experiences together.”
Today’s match against the Greater Northern Tigers kicks off at 12.45pm at Singleton’s Resco Park.
WESTERN RAMS: 1 Tim Bassmann (Orange CYMS), 2 Alofi Mataele (Orange Hawks), 3 Tom Lewsley (Mudgee), 4 Jyie Chapman (Dubbo CYMS) 5 Chris Daley (Dubbo Macquarie), 6 Jacob Neill (Nyngan), 7 Denis Moran (Parkes Spacemen - captain-coach), 8 Ron Lawrence (Cowra), 9 Jeremy Smith (Dubbo Macquarie), 10 Brent Seager (Bathurst Panthers), 11 Blake Seager (Bathurst Panthers), 12 Troy Hayman (Cobar), 13 Jack Afamasaga (Mudgee), 14 Benjamin John (Bathurst St Pat’s), 15 Wade Judd (Oberon), 16 Luke Newsome (Bathurst St Pat’s), 17 Josh Rainbow (Blayney), 18 Corin Smith (Mudgee).