WORKING HARD: Magpies player Tyler Gardiner hopes to cement his role as a centre with the Cutters in this weeks clash with Easts Tigers.
WORKING HARD: Magpies player Tyler Gardiner hopes to cement his role as a centre with the Cutters in this weeks clash with Easts Tigers. Callum Dick

Gardiner digs deep to go three for three with Cutters

Brandishing a spotless record with the Cutters, Tyler Gardiner could be the lucky charm the Mackay Intrust Super Cup team needs.

The up and coming centre has made two Cutters appearances and has two wins to show for it. Depending on where Cowboys hooker Reuben Cotter stands with his NRL duties, the Magpies player has a strong chance of making his third ISC run.

This week Gardiner was named on the Cutters' bench for their Round 14 clash against a familiar opponent, Easts Tigers.

"I actually debuted for the Cutters against Easts, so it would be a pretty good opportunity to have another call-up and cement that position for myself,” he said.

"We won and got on top of them, so at the moment I'm sitting two-for-two and I want to make it three.”

Last week Gardiner moved up from his club position at Magpies and journeyed overseas with the Cutters to help them secure their 34-26 win over PNG Hunters.

The Cutters raced out to a 16-point lead over the Hunters on their home turf, but a brace from an in-form Brandon Nima closed the gap in the fiftieth minute. Nima's efforts were complemented by Patrick Morea's try and a conversion by Nick Hasu which levelled the playing field 26-26 with 20 minutes of play left.

The Cutters turned the tide in the last moments of the match, after Gardiner secured the final try of the game and saved Mackay from what could have been a stalemate ending.

The coveted Cutters number 4 jersey had been Gardiner's biggest struggle. He hopes his tie-breaking performance at the weekend can help him retain his spot.

"You have great players like Jayden Hodges and Reuben Cotter who just made his debut in the NRL,” Gardiner said.

"I respect them and they've worked hard for what they've got, but I guess my biggest goal is to secure that jersey and play as many games in the Queensland Cup as I can.”

After Cotter was called up to the Cowboys last week, the Cutters shuffled their structures slightly. Hodges started in his favoured hooker role after he filled the halfback role for the past few weeks. Jack Hickson played at seven alongside Sam Cook, with Gardiner on the bench.

Head coach Steve Sheppard said he will most likely run the same structure if Cotter stays with the Cowboys for this weekend.

"I thought the rotation worked really well. Jayden was really dangerous out of dummy-half, I thought he played a really good game,” he said.

"Hicko and Cooky formed a really good combination. I thought our communication in the halves was close to the best it's been all year.

"Tyler came on and did his job. His defence under the ball was good, he scored a good try from dummy-half. Depending on what they do with Reuben it should be the same team this week as last.”



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