Cowboy back for Cutters' clash in Cloncurry
MACKAY Cutters coach Steve Sheppard has the enviable task of finding space to fit all of his talented ball players after Cowboys hooker Reuben Cotter was released for Queensland Cup duty this weekend.
Sheppard confirmed Cotter will start at hooker against Wynnum Manly tonight, forcing a reshuffle in the back row.
Incumbent hooker Jayden Hodges will move to lock, displacing Jordan Kenworthy to the front row and Alex Gerrard back to the bench.
After experiencing a dearth of ball-playing talent through the mid-point of the season, Sheppard suddenly finds himself playing skipper Cooper Bambling off the bench.
Sheppard said the methodology to incorporating all his quality players was actually "quite simple”.
"We've got a system and they know what it is and just have to fit into it,” he said.
After a return to form against the CQ Capras last weekend, the Cutters travel to Cloncurry for Get in the Game Country Week needing a win against third-placed Wynnum to remain in touch with the top eight.
Wynnum will be without Queensland Residents half Sam Scarlett due to suspension.
"Every game is crucial. Last week meant more than just two points to us - hopefully we can carry that confidence, make our wrongs right in defence, and put in a strong 80-minute performance this week,” Sheppard said.
The Cutters staff and playing group welcomed the opportunity to give back to the game of rugby league with a host of community engagements scheduled before and after tonight's 7pm kick-off.
"A lot of boys played their first bit of footy in the country. There's a lot of connection there,” Sheppard said.
"I like getting out in the country and I know the boys do too.”
Cutters prop Jack Brock had more reason than most to be excited for the trip to Cloncurry - he has family in the small town.
Unfortunately Brock was unable to overcome a combination of sickness and soreness and did not travel to play with the team.
"His Mum's family has property out that way. He is (disappointed) and I'm disappointed for him too - I know how much he likes playing in front of his family,” Sheppard said.
Tonight could also be a milestone match for winger Carlin Anderson. He needs just two points to reach 700 points scored in the Queensland Cup.
Intrust Super Cup Rd 18
Tonight (7pm) - Mackay Cutters v Wynnum Manly Seagulls at The Eddie Lee Field, Cloncurry