Maitland Blacks primed to beat Singleton on Old Boys Day at Marcellin Park

IMPORTANT ROLES: James Curran, Jye Estatheo and Chris Logan will lead the on-field communication for the Blacks. Picture Mikael Gaal.
IMPORTANT ROLES: James Curran, Jye Estatheo and Chris Logan will lead the on-field communication for the Blacks. Picture Mikael Gaal.

The desire is burning inside the Maitland Blacks to move on from a disappointing loss on the club's 140th anniversary celebrations last weekend.

And what better way to make amends than against traditional rivals Singleton, on Blacks Old Boys Day at Marcellin Park on Saturday.

“This week it’s about trying to put last week behind us. We had some good discussions at training about intensity levels and our handling and tackling,” Blacks joint coach Ryan McCormack said.

“To be honest the guys will be super keen to get out there and put last week behind them.”

The Blacks will be without key players halfback Jono O’Toole and star Kiwi recruit Travis Brooke who are at NSW Country trials on the weekend.

“We’ve got Max Stafford in for Jono and John Birrell comes into the starting XV for Brookesy, with Chris Martin also returning from injury.

“Young Max has been chomping at the bit to get his shot at No.9 in the run on side. He is actually a Singleton junior so he is looking forward to the game.

“John Birrell has been a fresh reserve for us in first grade gets his opportunity to play the full 80 minutes.

“The opportunity for John and Max to come into the team is only going to make us stronger later on in the year if we strike injuries.”

Singleton have yet to register a win in 2017, but McCormack is expecting them to be fired up given the long-history between the clubs.

“To be honest there are no easy games this year, you need to be at or near your best every week,” he said.

“It’s exciting its Back to Blacks day as well and we are looking forward to the Old Boys watching the 2017 Blacks run around.

“We spoke about at the start of the year making Marcellin our fortress so to speak. Making sure that when people come to here they know they have played Maitland and we always aim to get that victory for our home crowd.”

McCormack said the Blacks had plenty of experience and rugby knowledge to guide the team on-field in Brooke and O’Toole’s absence.

Guys like Chris Logan and James Curran are very good rugby brains and they are not frightened to share that knowledge and help their younger teammates.

“We back our ability to play football, we need to be able to adapt for what the opposition brings.

“That’s something we’re certainly getting better at. We are able to stick to the game plan as a structure but can react to what it’s in front of us.”

Blacks XV: 1. James Curran, 2. Rhys Watson, 3. James Robinson, 4, Theo Risley, 5 Klass Hoogland, 6. Sapati Peniata, 7. Nick Davidson, 8. John Birrell, 9. Max Stafford, 10. Rhys Clacherty, 11. Chris Martin, 12, Jye Estatheo, 12 Junior Poloai; 14 Jono Maloney, 15. Chris Logan.