NEXT UP: Mackay Cutters hooker Reuben Cotter was told yesterday he will get his NRL debut for the Cowboys against Manly this weekend.
NEXT UP: Mackay Cutters hooker Reuben Cotter was told yesterday he will get his NRL debut for the Cowboys against Manly this weekend. Aidan Cureton

Cotter gets long-awaited Cowboys call-up

BACKUP Cowboys hooker Kurt Baptiste in is trouble with the NRL match review committee and Cutters rake Reuben Cotter is the beneficiary.

Baptiste was slapped with a grade one charge for his hit on Gold Coast Titan Tyrone Roberts in the dying stages of the Round 12 clash at CBUS Stadium and today had a one week suspension confirmed.

That has opened the door for Cutters incumbent Cotter, who has turned heads with his Intrust Super Cup form, to be named on the bench to spell starting Cowboys rake Jake Granville in Saturday's clash with Manly in Townsville.

Cotter was originally named at nine for the Cutters by coach Steve Sheppard this morning, but news trickled through this evening that the 20 year old had been named on the bench to make his NRL debut.

Cotter's path into the Cowboys team was not an easy one. Because he falls outside of the Townsville side's top 30 list, he is only available for selection if the Cowboys have no other option to cover the position within the main squad.

Sheppard suggested Maroons starter Josh McGuire could do a job at nine for the Cowboys if he pulls up fine after tomorrow night's State of Origin I at Suncorp Stadium.

But although both McGuire and Cowboys half Michael Morgan were today named by Cowboys coach Paul Green to back-up on Saturday, Cotter was still deemed necessary to requirements and drafted in to fill the bench.

"Because he's a development player he can only play with compensation,” Sheppard explained prior to confirmation of Cotter's selection.

"All their nines have to be injured or suspended (for Cotter to play). Hopefully he plays for them.”

Sheppard said Cotter's selection was just rewards for the considerable work ethic the 20 year old has shown to get back after consecutive ACL injuries sidelined him over the past few seasons.

"He has the heart of a lion,” Sheppard said.

"He's ready to go. He's one of the most professional kids I've dealt with.

"What he's been through and how he's got himself back to where he is, he'll handle it at a drop of a hat.”

Cotter will join fellow Cutters teammates Shane Wright and Mitch Dunn in the Cowboys squad to take on Manly.

To cover Cotter's absence, Sheppard named Mackay Magpies half Tyler Gardiner as 19th man for the Cutters' trip to PNG to face the Hunters on Sunday.

Sheppard said Gardiner would come onto the bench, with skipper Jayden Hodges moved back into his familiar number nine role and Jack Hickson to start in the halves alongside Sam Cook.

Sheppard expects Gardiner to bring strong defence and ball running ability to the team if required.

"Boof has come through Brothers and more recently Magpies. He played a good competition over the weekend away for NQ (Marlins),” Sheppard said of Gardiner.

"One-on-one he has really strong contact. Nine times out of 10 he finishes on top.

"Both he and Dave Munro (named on the bench) are similar types of players who like to get up and put plenty of defensive pressure on. Both of those players will suit this weekend against the Hunters.”

For yet another game week, the Cutters will field a new-look combination at six, seven and nine.

Sheppard admitted the constant chopping and changing in the ball playing positions was not ideal, but irrespective of who plays where, he was confident they would do the job in PNG.

"It is what it is. If we're too concerned about it (that is when) it can have an affect on us,” Sheppard said.

"All the boys are capable, it's just that consistency that hurts you a little bit.

"I'm quite comfortable of all the boys that are there, it's just a matter of doing a job and doing it for 80 minutes.”

Lock Brenden Treston is the other confirmed out for Sunday's match. Due to work commitments he will be unable to make the extended trip to PNG.

Kellen Jenner will start at 12 in Treston's absence.

Mackay Cutters

Mackay Cutters v PNG Hunters

1. Carlin Anderson 2. Yamba Bowie 3. Dan Russell 4. Jayden Batchelor 5. Pauli Byrnes 6. Sam Cook 7. Jack Hickson 8. Emry Pere 9. Jayden Hodges (c) 10. Alex Gerrard 11.Ross Bella 12. Kellen Jenner 13. Jordan Kenworthy. Interchange: 14. Tyler Gardiner 15. Dave Munro 16. Jack Brock 17. Sam Johnstone 18. Blake Atherton



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