Maitland Blacks coach Matt Thomas is backing his injury-hit side to meet their biggest challenge of the season when they host Lake Macquarie on Saturday.
Thomas is banking on Maitland's brains to prevail against Lake Macquarie's brawn on Ladies Day at Marcellin Park.
"We've got a lot of blokes out, particularly this weekend, and we are playing one of the biggest sides in the competition," Thomas said.
"These blokes are enormous, we are really going to have to play smart rugby this weekend.
"We are going to have to play with our brains and not so much brawn. We'll have to play a high-tempo game and use our rugby smarts, more so than any other weekend.
"Michael Howell is still out, Alastair Fraser is away for two weeks, Carl Manu is overseas and away for a week, Pat Batey is still injured, Chris Logan is still injured, Chris Martin is injured this weekend ... we've got quite a few out.
"If we can get up, even if it is by one point, I'm going to be a very happy man."
Isaac Enright at 13 and Jordan Bower at 15 come for their first starts in first grade for Maitland this year as the club continues to test its depth.
"We've always know we were going to need 30 blokes to win this title and we're starting to use them," Thomas said.
"We've lost a lot of strike power across the park, but we've still got some good depth and we are blooding young blokes, building the club - it's all positive.
"We just need to concentrate on ourselves at the moment and not worry about anyone else.
"It is a big test, they are at almost full strength and we're certainly not.
"I'd say it's going to be a game of wit really.
"It's a self-belief game for Maitland.
"I still think we're a good chance of winning it though. We're still confident, it's just we know it will be a real tough match.
"It should be a great game, it's Ladies Day, it will be really good physical game."
Amid the injury problems one of the real positives for Thomas has been inside centre Pat Robards ongoing conversion to union from league.
"He is really starting to learn the game.
"He is very strong, a great runner, solid in defence and really starting to fit into our team.
"He is starting to understand rugby. It is a completely different game and I think it is harder to go from league to union than the other way around.
"He is just starting to grasp it and grabbing it with both hands and playing some really good football. He has been a definite bonus for our club."