THREE players have come home to roost and made all the difference for Kootingal this season as the Roosters shape up to be one of the teams to beat in the Group 4 Second Division Shield.
A comfortable 40-16 win over Manilla at Manilla Showground continued the good start to the season for the Roosters.
Captain-coach Nathan Hamlin’s return to the club had the Rooster faithful crowing again at the start of the season and he hasn’t let them down.
Hamlin inspired from the front on Saturday in Manilla, scoring the first try and then playing like a man possessed to take the three match points in the 40-16 victory.
Hamlin threw his weight around in attack, with strong running up the middle and also lined up and cut down the Manilla big men in defence.
James Considine is another player who has returned to the club this year after a year away.
The prop took players’ player after coming off the bench and making some big runs through and over the Tigers.
While Matt McCullough wasn’t one of the stars on Saturday, his return to the club could be the biggest key to finishing on top this year.
McCullough is still recovering from an ankle injury sustained in the Pepperell Shield, although is still running on at hooker.
McCullogh is the type of player whose work rate and impact can often go unnoticed but is actually the driving force behind the team.
After a year playing for the Grasshoppers where he led the underdogs into the grand final, the dummy half has returned to Kooty.
“I knew Fish (Hamlin) was coming back and a couple of the other boys,” McCullogh said.
“We got a few new players as well and look like we could be a pretty handy side.”
The hooker thought that the Roosters were a bit scrappy on Saturday and dropped too much ball, but are heading in the right direction.
Having the likes of recruit Jeremy York in the centres, Hamlin back as captain and Considine back in the pack has the number nine thinking about the finals.
“All up, we have good forwards and good backs,” McCullough said.
“We just have to work on our defence a bit.”
McCullough believes that premiers Barraba and semi- finalists Dungowan will be the teams to beat this year.
“We will match it with both of them and have got a good chance.”
Following a late decison by the Grasshoppers to play as Wests reserve grade, the hooker is even more relieved he left the side after one season.
“Yeah, I was glad to leave,” McCullough said.
“Second Division is a better comp with more teams and everyone can beat anyone on their day.”