GROUP 4 has had to make three changes to the original side named to play in the Greater Northern Championships next weekend.
Despite the losses of Narrabri’s Joseph Tago (pectoral), Michael Skillcorn (unavailable), and Jake Rumsby (shoulder), coach and Group 4 secretary Mick Schmiedel said the team on the field would be just as good.
“The blokes we have used to replace these guys were probably unlucky not to get in the original side,” Schmiedel said.
“They were all fifty-fifty decisions.”
Rumsby has been replaced by North utility Ky Ruru who will give the side some extra options.”
“Ky gives us some versatility that we probably wouldn’t have had otherwise,” Schmiedel said.
“He can play up front, in the back row or even in the centres if we need him to.”
Another Bear, Richard Clegg, will come on to the wing to replace Skillcorn, while Wee Waa’s Iowane Divavesi will join the front row instead of Rumsby.
The new-look Group 4 side had its first session last Wednesday in Gunnedah, although only 12 of the squad were available to train.
The players who were there went through some basic structures in attack and talked about their defence.
“Rep footy is more about defence than attack,” Schmiedel said.
“Realistically they should all be natural attackers but defence is an attitude.”
Even though the side has limited opportunities to train together, the coach would like to tailor-make their defensive structure for the different opponents.
Group 19 plays a much more expansive brand of football, whereas Group 21 is the opposite, playing with a lot of structure.
“Group 19 is very flamboyant which can be harder to defend against if you are not prepared for it,” Schmiedel said.
“They like to throw it around a lot more, where the Hunter guys play a straighter game.”
The side will not get any more opportunities to come together except for this Friday night before the championships.
They will have a light session under lights on Friday night and then possibly a very light session on Saturday morning before the games.
Schmiedel said it had been a good preparation this year because the clubs had been a lot more co-operative with their players.
“We have had some better support this year and more players available.
“It should be a good competition,” he said.