JULY 5 2020 – NEWCASTLE HERALD
Wildfires’ starting spots up for grabs in final trial against Penrith
COACH Scott Coleman is yet to lock in any starting positions and will use the Newcastle Wildfires’ final hit out against Penrith as a selection trial rather than a dress rehearsal for their Shute Shield opener.
The Wildfires and Penrith were late inclusions for the shortened Sydney season and are playing catch-up on the other 11 clubs ahead of kick-off in 12 days.
“No spots are really secured yet,” Coleman said. “It’s not ideal but that is what we have. This week will be a reward for all the guys who have been doing the training. I want to see how they perform under game pressure.
“There is not that much difference between a number of players. Robbie Deans, when he was at the Wallabies, wanted strong finishers. I never paid that much attention. But this season I will look at the make up of my bench a lot more than I have in club footy. We have three or four guys who are very similar in most positions. I will be looking at guys playing 50 to 55 minutes and then flooding new guys on. The guys who come off the bench need to make an impact – do a big hit or make a big run to change momentum.”
“The Wildfires “blew out a few cobwebs” in a modified internal trial on Saturday.
New signing, NSW Country halfback Mahe Fangupo arrived from Forbes on Saturday and missed the session, while former Parramatta fullback Hayden Coles was also out. Adam Edwards, Piers Morrell and Bill Coffey were stand out performers.
“It was scrappy but it was always going to be,” Coleman said. “It was good to get some game contact and game fitness into them. It was a good hit out and there were no injuries, which was the main thing.
“Piers was awesome. He has a motor on him and was everywhere. Adsy, from the Bay, has a really good footy brain and picks up the new structures straight away. He knows his role and does it really well. It was Billy Coffey’s first session back. His gym has opened back up and he has been working. He has arranged for someone to cover so he can train and play and was really good. Chad Northcott was excellent at fullback.”
The Wildfires will play the Emus in two grades and colts at No.2 Sportsground.
“We will split ours into two squads – not necessarily firsts and seconds,” Coleman said. “Penrith have been getting 60 guys at training. The local rugby league season has been cancelled and they have had a heap of players come across. I imagine they will have some big, mobile backs and will be as sketchy as us. They won’t have patterns to run. We have mainly been concentrating on defence. Looking at our opening five or six games, it will definitely be defence-orientated so we are trying to get that right.”
The Wildfires open their season away to Randwick on July 18.
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