The Cessnock Goannas will be without forward Dan Metcalf and hooker Josh Dymock when they take on Maitland in their final trial match.
Former Maitland Pickers’ premiership player Metcalf is recovering from a broken bone in his hand and will not be risked in Saturday’s game at Maitland Sportsground.
Dymock will be attending a wedding and has been given the week off. The Goannas are hoping to call on former Knights NSW Cup player Marvin Filipos to fill the void.
The Pickers will be hopeful utility back Steve Waetford will be available for his first trial and will be boosted by the return of Geordie Connelly.
However, they are likely to be missing Kurt Aldridge, who was part of the Knights NSW Cup side’s first victory of the season when they accounted for the Wenworthville Magpies 22-14.
Goannas coach Dan Smailes said Metcalf should be recovered for the team’s opening Newcastle Rugby League game at home against Macquarie Scorpions on Saturday, April 16.
“You don’t play with a busted hand in trial games. It will be five weeks (from when he injured himself) so he should be right for round one,” he said.
Smailes said after taking extended squads into their first two trial games, he would be trimming the team to 17 or 18 against the Pickers.
“Obviously there’s some players missing so it won’t be the make-up completely of the team we will take into the first round, but it’s not far off,” he said.
Smailes said there were some positives to come out of the Goannas’ Charity Shield loss to Kurri Kurri, but the biggest deficiency he identified was line speed and the need to play the ball quicker.
“If we can get that in the trenches stuff a bit better and be more aggressive without the footy it will be good year for us,” he said.
If we can get that in the trenches stuff a bit better and be more aggressive without the footy it will be good year for us.Cessnock Goannas coach Dan Smailes
Meanwhile, Goannas fans are motivating their team online with a Facebook posting of video highlights of the 1977 grand final win against Maitland.
Saturday’s games at Maitland Sportsground kick off with under 19s at noon, open grade 1.15pm, reserves 2.30pm and first grade at 4pm