Coffs missing key players
POSITIONAL changes and fill-in players are on the mind of Coffs Rugby coach Paul Butcher as he prepares for today's long road journey to Taree for the clash with Manning River.
Winger Rod Deighton faces a lunchtime fitness test and if ruled out joins injured forwards Connor Barrett and Matt Hoy on the sidelines with three other key team members also unavailable.
"The spots will be filled by quality players who would otherwise be playing first grade at other clubs," Butcher noted.
"Mitch Lind will come into outside centre and I can't see the Ratz defence stopping somebody his size one on one."
Gavin Vanderkly makes his top grade debut at blindside flanker with Andrew Lynn and Mick Cleary added to the run on side.
"Although we played perfect wet weather football last week I can see today being scrappy, irrespective of it being first versus last," the coach predicted.
"I hope they prove me wrong but we're aiming to try a lot of new plays under game conditions that we'll use in the finals.
"The players will benefit but the crowd may not be impressed."
Butcher has stressed the necessity to be precise and clinical.
"We base our whole game around set plays and knowing where to run.
"Given last weeks effort I don't think we'll score less than 40 points."
If that prediction isn't daunting enough for Ratz coach Graham Sonter there's the added burden of having medical worries of his own to contend with.
Rep prop Tim Elliott may be gone for the season with a broken ankle while at least four in the backline are still to prove their fitness.