CRUNCH: Maroochydore's Thomas Jeffery runs into Nambour's Kian Shead.
CRUNCH: Maroochydore's Thomas Jeffery runs into Nambour's Kian Shead. Che Chapman

Wounded Crushers rate Swans highly

RUGBY LEAGUE: Nambour co-captain Tim Ross believes the loss of two key players has seriously hurt his team’s prospects this season and has labelled Maroochydore as the team to beat in this year’s Caloundra RSL Cup.

The last-placed Crushers were thumped 40-0 by the ladder-leading Swans in their round eight clash at Buderim on Saturday night.

Nanbour was sorely missing Sunshine Coast Falcons fringe player David Oakes.

The ball player has been the battling side’s shining light but Ross said he’s likely out for the rest of the season (shoulder surgery).

“He was going really well and was one of those players we were relying on coming back (to the Crushers from the Falcons) each week,” he said.

“It (his absence) is definitely a big hit for us.”

The Crushers have also been without co-captain Mitch Ward since he sustained a knee injury in round one.

He’s unlikely to return this campaign.

“He’s our go-forward man and it hit us pretty hard when he was gone after the first game because we can usually rely on him for those magic plays he pulls out of nowhere,” Ross said

“We’ve definitely had a pretty horror run with injuries and with the people who have been getting them.

“When you’re trying to run your team plays and stuff and the crucial people in the plays get injured, you’ve got to put someone else in there and it gives you a hiccup.”

The Crushers were on Saturday also missing a couple of other Falcons who have been lacing up for the side this season.

Ross said his team needs to find a way without its stars.

“Hopefully we can all step our game up a bit with the absence of those Falcons players and start performing better as a team,” he said.

“We’ve got our plays and they work and when we do a few more training sessions together with the players we have, and if we have the same team for the remainder of the year, we should be able to execute the plays well and everything should then fall into place then.

“No one player is going to turn it around for us. We need to do it as a group, as a team.”

He said the Swans are the “team to beat”.

“I don’t think they were at full strength on Saturday night either so that’s something for everyone else to think about,” he said.

“They get good roll-on and play-of-the-ball and they win all the tackles and dominate the ruck.”

Brad Kent snared four tries.

“He’s an awesome player and is really versatile,” Ross said.

“You can play him in the halves and anywhere in the back-line. He’s a dangerous player to be up against and he showed that against us.”

In other games, Caboolture and Kawana were locked at 28-apiece and Caloundra thrashed Gympie 50-18 at Tewantin.



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