SHANE Salvador will add plenty of size and experience to the West pack as he returns from injury this week when the Lions host Wee Waa tomorrow at Scully Park.
The premiership-winning forward will come off the bench but has captain-coach Chris Hunt excited about the direction of the side.
After a poor start to the season racked by resignations and a sacking, the Lions are beginning to roar again.
Last week saw the side upset second-placed Gunnedah, a win that surprised a lot of people in the game.
Week by week the Lions have been getting better and better with the goal of a sixth straight premiership.
“Last week everything we have been training to do came together,” Hunt said.
“We had quick plays of the ball and created space for the full 80 minutes.”
Hunt thinks the game against the Panthers today will be a litmus test for the rest of the season.
“This game will really tell where we are at,” Hunt said.
“Hopefully we won’t drop away and can put two full games together in a row.”
The Lions have put together a good pack which is growing with confidence and have the likes of young gun Dylan Lake out wide.
Ben Jarvis will once again sit out with an ankle injury, although last week that gave rise to Will Chesterfield.
The 17-year-old played 80 minutes at hooker last week and impressed.
He will once again be joined in the pack by two more U18s, Zac Hatch and another yet to be named after a late
Salvador has been out for five weeks and will start off the bench but will bring a lot to the side.
“His extra experience gives everyone a lot of confidence,” Hunt said.
Lock Phil Beaton and front rower Tom Hine have been turning heads and will only get better with Salvador standing in the line next to them.
Hunt said Wee Waa was a tough game because you never know which Panthers side will show up.
“If the Power boys play and they start going forward they are dangerous,” Hunt said.
“Josh Trindall and Brenton Cochrane are dangerous from anywhere.”
While a win can put the side into equal second with Gunnedah but behind on points, Hunt wants to keep going.
“There is no point finishing second if you can’t compete with first,” Hunt said.
That first place will be secured if North continues its unbeaten run with a win over Gunnedah in a first versus second clash today at Jack Woolaston Oval.
The other game could see Diggers get their premier victory in Narrabri if the Blues play like they did against North last week.