Gunnedah are preparing for a huge test against defending premiers Pirates in Tamworth on Saturday.
A daunting prospect at the best of times, the Red Devils have been hit hard by injuries.
Young play-maker Joe Hinchey is looking at six-eight weeks on the sidelines after picking up a shoulder injury at the Country Championships on the weekend.
Second rowers Matt Roseby (knee) and Tom Torrens (broken hand) are also out.
The Red Devils though are remaining positive and will welcome back Matt Neilson, Jamie Mitchell and Joe Norman.
The latter are both class play-makers, Red Devils coach Jason Waerea said, and will relieve a lot of pressure off the midfield positions.
“After a good win over Inverell the team was on a high,” Waerea said.
“The boys felt they were strong in the set piece and attacked freely, and defensively the team felt good.”
He said Pirates are strong everywhere and they will have to go their with the right attitude but are excited by the challenge of playing a good team.
“The Red Devils are eager to have a crack and that belief is what drives a side to step up on the day,” he said.
He said the loose forwards of Sanimo Navatu, Nick Lyons and Jeremy Brown will play a key role, tightening up the transition areas around the ruck.
There will be a couple of changes in the front row with Isaac Scholes and Ben Torrens both unavailable due to work commitments.
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