Inverell faces a tough stretch

INVERELL has given itself a good springboard to push into the top tier but now the real test comes.

The Highlanders have a treacherous run, facing last year’s semi-finalists in succession, starting with Scone in Scone on Saturday.

“It’s an enormous test,” Highlanders coach Scott Bremner said.

He couldn’t have asked for a better start – at least as far as results go – with maximum points from their first two games putting the Highlanders in second behind Moree.

There is  still a lot of work to be done though. 

“We’re probably not travelling as well as we should be,” Bremner said.

“We’re winning ugly.”

“It’s still a win but I’d like to see us be a bit more clinical.

“The timing is not quite right yet.

“We’re probably rushing things a bit too.

“We’re trying to score off every phase when we should be taking our time.”

That is probably a bit symptomatic of being such a young side.

“Sometimes it’s hard to put old heads on young shoulders,” Bremner said.

But they will need to play a lot smarter and be more patient if they’re going to get the results over the next four weeks.

“That’s where we’ve got to stand up and be counted,” he said. “It will be a test of where we are at.”

They – Scone, Moree, Narrabri and Pirates – are in his mind the four toughest teams.

“I’d like to come out of it with two wins,” he said.

By their calculations they need to win a minimum of five games, if not six, to make the top five.

The Highlanders read a very different side this season, although a lot of the names aren’t that unfamiliar.

Several were “good junior footballers” who are coming back from a break.

They’ve also picked up a couple of players from league.

Winger Michael Schneider is one of those.

He played with Tingha and was tossing up between the two codes for this season.

“I’m pretty happy he’s playing with us,” Bremner said.

“He’s a very good finisher and has got plenty of pace.”

He counts him as probably one of their best over the first couple of rounds.

Another strong performer has been skipper Chad Makim. 

“He is really leading from the front,” Bremner said.

“He’s been spectacular.”

“It’s probably the first full pre-season he’s put in.”

He said getting the result against Scone would be a great start to their run and, while not quite sure what to expect from the Brumbies – who too have had quite a few personnel changes from last season –   highlighted the scrum as a crucial area.

“If we can secure our possession we’ll be more than in the race,” he said.

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