NSW COUNTRY prop Andrew Whittington will play for Tweed Head Seagulls in today’s Country Challenge Cup rugby league clash with North Tamworth at Jack Woolaston Oval.
The former NRL player received a last-minute clearance from medical staff and travelled down to Tamworth with the rest of the team yesterday.
Whittington was originally ruled out of the side but surprised even the Seagull coach when he turned up for training.
“He copped a bad head knock last week and we thought he was out for a month,” Seagulls co-coach Michael Searle said yesterday.
“But he turned up to training on Thursday night and our medical staff have passed him fit to play.”
Searle was expecting a tough match up front against the Bears.
“We’re expecting a physical game against North and a fair bit of stick,” Searle said.
“That’s why we’ve named three forwards on the bench. And we’ll use Andrew as an impact player.”
Whittington is joined by former Australian Schoolboy representative Eddie Harrison and Jeremy Lateo on the bench.
North Tamworth captain/coach Matt Munro aims to “test them out in the first 20 minutes” with his big forwards.
“We’re always going to play a forward-orientated game,” Munro said.
Munro knows little about the opposition but has heard the backs perform well with room to move.
North will look to prevent the game from opening up early and keep a simple game plan.
“I don’t know much about them but apparently they’ve got a lot of youth and they all play for each other.
“We’ll just look to have a low mistake rate, maintain possession and feel them out early,” he said.
The presence of Peter Moodie on the bench enables Munro to rotate the props without having to move up to the position himself.
“Having him off the bench is a big boost. It means I can concentrate on being a second-rower,” Munro said.
Munro said the North backline was often underrated and has more attacking potency with the addition of new half Brendan Magnus.