CENTRAL North’s plan of attack will be to set their backs free as they try to topple NSW Country Championship heavyweights Newcastle in Mudgee today.
The Kookaburras couldn’t have drawn a much tougher Caldwell Cup semi-final assignment than facing the six times defending champions.
The difficulty was compounded with a couple of late disruptions such as the withdrawal of five-eighth Andrew Moodie yesterday.
Fortunately they were able to secure Walcha’s Simon Newton to step in. He can cover either five-eighth or inside centre.
Moree coach Damien Kelly has also come into the squad to help out, along with outside back Sam Bacigalupo after Dale Robinson was a late pull out yesterday.
Co-coach Ross Duncan was optimistic they’ve got it in them to cause an upset.
Part of the plan to do that is attack.
How effectively they can do that will rest a lot on the forwards, but if they can provide the platform, Duncan believes they can score the points.
“We’ve got the ability to move the ball around,” he said.
“Hopefully the boys can set a good platform for the backs to do what we know they’re capable of.”
The key will be the backs getting the ball on the front foot, and ensuring they win their share of
“We’ve got to be able to retain our own ball and give the backs enough opportunities to score points,” he said.
He said they will look to attack as much as possible.
“We’ve got boys in the backline who don’t see kicking as their first option,” he said.
“We’ll look to throw the ball around and keep it in hand.”
“Not Fijian style, more the Waratahs, where the intent is to score points.”
There is a lot of versatility in the backs.
Brendan Hunt for example could play 10 or 12, or even shift to 13.
George Duddy can play pretty much anywhere in the backline except for five-eighth.
One of their key weapons in the backs will be Pirates’ breakaway-come centre Jake Douglas.
He’ll likely play at 13 where he has been outstanding in the trials.
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“He gives you real go forward at 13,” Duncan said.
“(And) He’s great working into contact.”
They could also throw him into the back row if need be.
The pack will probably be under-sized compared to Novocastrians but is very mobile.
“We’ve got a couple of good ball runners,” Duncan said.
“And a second row that will get through a lot of work.”
The Kookaburras met Newcastle at the same stage last year with the Kookaburras giving the Novocastrians a fright.
“Hopefully we can get a good start on them,” Duncan said.
The key if they can, is to not get caught in the trap of trying to play their style of football.
That’s what happened last year.
They’ll clash at 1.15pm with New England playing Western Plains at 9am in their Richardson Shield semi-final, the Central North Colts taking on Mid North Coast at 10am and the Lions Colts Illawarra at 1pm.