GLEN Innes Magpies make the long trip into the unknown when they travel to Goondiwindi for the first time in around half a century for today’s Group 19 clash.
It’s many years since Glen Innes went head to head with the boys from Goondiwindi.
Most Glen Innes locals think it was the late 1960s when the two teams last met in the now disbanded Group 5.
They will most certainly notice a big difference in the new ground and clubhouse since those days.
Magpies captain-coach Sam Key reckons it will be like all first-round clashes.
“We don’t know much about them but we know it’s going to take a massive effort to travel that far and get energised for what will be a tough match.
“We’ve got a couple of injuries, too.
“Prop Sam Schiffman is out and second-rower Adam McPhillips will miss out with a broken toe.
“They’ve both been really good for us.
“Adam has scarcely missed a training session since February and he’s been rewarded with a starting spot.”
Young reserve grade prop Brady Willis comes into the Magpies’ lineup.
He played strongly off the bench against Ashford and will relish the chance to join the top grade, following in the footsteps of his father Richard and older brother Jarryd who were both members of Glen Innes’s premiership-winning sides.
“We are lucky that our reserves are going so well (unbeaten to date) and there’s plenty of competition for spots,” Key said.
The top grade is also unbeaten and leading the competition at this early stage.
“I’m not worried about that,” Key said.
“It’s very early and I’m not looking any further ahead than this week’s game.
“I saw the results from last weekend and no one is sure of getting two points.
“It seems really even and that only makes the competition better.
“It does show that every team has to be switched on and ready to play.
“You just can’t turn up and expect to win, you have to put in a big effort.”
“We have to learn to play the full eighty minutes. At the moment our efforts are patchy.
“I was very impressed with last week (40-10 winners over Uralla) and we were very physical.
“It’s harder away from home and we have to become more clinical in putting our opponents away.”
In other Group 19 games today, Moree Boars host Inverell Hawks at Boughton Oval, Moree, Moree Boomerangs go to Tingha to tackle the Tigers and Uralla Tigers are at home to the Ashford Roosters. Armidale Rams have the bye.