THE Armidale Rams were fleeced of players in the off season but have mustered up a new coach and already have their sights on the finals in Group 19.
The Rams pulled out of the Group 19 Gala Day last weekend due to lack of numbers but will play a final trial against North Tamworth in Armidale this Saturday.
It is a new look side after a couple of players were lured to the Uralla Tigers, and others went their own way.
Club president Terry Carson said it was not a matter of quality but quantity at the moment.
“We will have a very strong first grade side by the look of things,” Carson said.
“We might be struggling for numbers in the reserves and juniors though.”
New player coach Clarrie Moran has got big plans for the side, and will finalise the combinations this weekend.
Moran was contracted with the Newcastle Knights before playing for Central Charlestown in the Newcastle competition for the past few years.
He will take up the halfback role and will most likely share the playmaking duties with Travis Naylor.
Naylor lead the way last year when the Rams reserves won the flag.
“He has been at the club since juniors and certainly deserves his spot,” Carson said.
Another of last year’s reserve grade stars Hayden Strong will step up and take the fullback’s jersey.
Probably the biggest loss the Rams took was losing electric fullback Alistair Faulkner to Uralla.
The off-season moves have created a bit of bad blood between the two sides and makes for a very interesting first round next weekend.
“It is going to be a showdown that’s for sure,” Carson said.
“I can’t wait for it.”
The Rams have kept the core of their forward pack, which is their weapon.
The Quinlan brothers Steve and Gary are the heart of that pack, although this year they will have even more grunt.
Fijian front rowers Josh Koroibulu and Apukuti Mate have recruited their cousin who will join the side for the first round.
“We will definitely be playing up the middle again,” Carson said.
“Clarrie (Moran) has got some new ideas on how to utilise the big pack.”
The president is looking forward to the new look 10-team Group 19 season.
“There is going to be a lot of travel but there is also going to be a lot of good games.”
“We will be very disappointed if we do not make the finals.”