Cutters waiting on Cowboys star's availability
MACKAY Cutters coach Steve Sheppard has labelled Carlin Anderson a 50-50 chance to return for Saturday night's clash with Tweed Heads Seagulls at BB Print Stadium.
Sheppard today named an unchanged line-up to the one which defeated rivals Townsville Blackhawks 20-6 last Friday night.
But he said the availability of Cowboys allocations Anderson and Emry Pere would be confirmed later this week.
"We still haven't heard from the Cowboys as yet. At this stage it's the same 18,” Sheppard said.
Fullback Anderson has been sidelined since he copped a heavy concussion and T6 vertebrae fracture while fielding a kick in the Cutters' round one clash against Easts Tigers.
Deputising for the injured star, first-year Cutter Pauli Byrnes has filled the number one role with aplomb over the past month.
The 23-year-old Townsville product has averaged 129 metres per game since moving from the wing in round two.
His form at the back has been a big reason why the Cutters are averaging 70m more on kick returns per game than last season - up from 11th to first in the Intrust Super Cup.
However Sheppard confirmed if Anderson is deemed fit to play, the former Ipswich Jet and Blackhawk will retake his favoured place at fullback.
"I'd say that's where Greeny (Cowboys coach Paul Green) would like him to play,” Sheppard said.
"Pauli did a fantastic job on the weekend; really good under the high ball (and) his line organisation was really good. He had some good metres as well.
"Unfortunately that's just the nature of the beast with someone full-time coming back into the system.”
Anderson's potential inclusion may come at the perfect time for the Cutters, with winger Marcus Jensen nursing a knee complaint.
Albeit unlikely, if Jensen is forced to miss the Tweed encounter Byrnes can reclaim the number five jersey he started the season in.
Sheppard said Jensen's status would be assessed at training tomorrow night, and added the Cutters had multiple kicking options should they need to replace him.
"Lloyd (White) is a goalkicker. Yamba (Bowie) can kick. Rossy Bella believe it or not is a good goalkicker as well - Rossy is probably hitting them the best at the moment,” Sheppard said.
Mackay Cutters: 1. Pauli Byrnes 2. Yamba Bowie 2. Dan Russell 4. Blake Atherton 5. Marcus Jensen 6. Lloyd White 7. Cooper Bambling (c) 8. Alex Gerrard 9. Jayden Hodges 10. Ross Bella 11. Shane Wright 12. Kellen Jenner 13. Jordan Kenworthy 14. Reuben Cotter 15. David Munro 16. Jack Brock 17. Brendon Treston 18. Sam Johnstone