Orange CYMS will take a wealth of representative football experience to Wade Park this weekend.
Unfortunately for them, most of it will be watching from the sidelines.
The two-time defending premiers face an in-form Lithgow Workies in a replay of last year’s decider.
It’s a tough ask coming on the back of last week’s 30-20 defeat at the hands of the Mudgee Dragons.
But the harshest toll of their second round loss was an increase to the club’s already alarming list of injured stars.
Rampaging forward Terawhitti Cooper was carried off the Glen Willow field with ten minutes to go with an ankle injury.
Despite being cleared of fractures and ligament damage yesterday, extensive bruising looks set to sideline the dual premiership winner for at least two weeks.
Off-season signing Brett Seargent will be out of action for even longer.
The 2011 Bundaberg Cup captain is facing up to six weeks on the sidelines after suffering rib injuries in Saturday’s defeat.
The absence of the two couldn’t have come at a worse time for the green and golds, with another six players from last year’s triumph already wounded.
Captain-coach Mick Sullivan (hamstring, 2-3 weeks), Dom Maley (hamstring, 3-4 weeks) and Matt Penny (groin, 3-4 weeks) are all expected back within a month.
Ben McKenna, who underwent a knee operation in March, is a chance of returning for the business end of the season.
But Kurt Beahan (achilles) and Warwick Colley (broken arm) have been ruled out of the 2012 season.
CYMS President Ray Agland admits the staggering number of injuries have made an impact on the club’s short-term prospects.
“Every one of those players, with the exception of Matt Penny, has played Group level representative football or better.” Agland said.
“It really tests our depth. Our second grade side went down on Saturday (64-12) because they’ve had to take the slack.”
The silver lining for Agland is the likely return of all but Colley and Beahan for the back end of the minor premiership and finals.
It’s also a great opportunity to blood some of the club’s juniors, which Agland insists has been a focus for the club over the past few seasons.
“We’ve really focussed on developing our younger guys, so this is their chance to step up,” Agland said.
“We might need them again later in the year, so this experience in the top flight will only help.
“It’s not ideal but we will stay positive”.