INVERELL Hawks go into today’s Group 19 clash with reigning premiers Moree Boomerangs at Varley Oval, Inverell badly underdone.
While the home ground advantage is a great advantage, the lack of match fitness is a worrying sign for new coach Peter Stevens.
Stevens, who coached the combined Warialda/Bingara side to a grand final loss against the Boomerangs last year, has taken over at the Hawks but is lamenting their lack of trials.
“We haven’t had one,” Stevens said.
“That’s going to be tough for us because the Boomies have had a few and I rate the Boomies.
“Someone is going to have to jump out of the box to beat them this year because I think they might have a better side under Chris Binge.
“They will be the benchmark, that’s for sure.
“They might have lost a couple but they’ve picked up a few too.
“They are the team we are all going to have to lift for.
“This game is going to be a big test.
“We’re going to be nowhere right but, in saying that, I think we’ll put on a good show for a while.”
He believes the likes of back rowers Rod Bull and Corey Garrett will be key men for the Hawks.
Garrett is a young up and coming backrower who has trained strongly over the off season.
“Luke Thom is back from a groin injury too,” Stevens said.
“It’s his first game since June or July last year and Alex McCosker will be a key too but he’s got to play in the centres.
“Normally he’s a backrower and also coming back from injury too.
“To be honest, it’s our first trial and it’s going to be a tough hit-out.
“Playing at home is a blessing for us.”
It is also the first game of the season for the Boomies after their opening-round game against the Goondiwindi Boars was deferred last weekend.
The match is timed for a 5pm kickoff, Stevens said.
In other Group 19 games today, Tingha is at home to Uralla, Armidale travels to Goondiwindi and the Moree Boars are at home to Ashford.
Glen Innes has the bye.