Pride on line for last trial
NORTHERN Pride coach Jason Demetriouhas told his players there are spots up for grabs for round one ahead of his side's final trial match against Mackay in Ayr tonight.
The Pride have had a mixed pre-season to date, with their first-up 20-18 victory over the Cowboys under-20s followed by a disappointing 29-22 loss to Papua New Guinea team the Rabaul Guriaslast week.
But tonight's clash against the Cutters is the game Demetriou is keenest to see.
The Pride play the Cutters in round one of the Intrust Super Cup at Barlow Park on March 16, and any player producing a good performance tonight can secure a spot in the 17 for the season opener.
"I've got a good idea about 11 or 12 of those players," Demetriou said of his first-round team.
"But there are still positions up for grabs. Obviously a lot will depend on what Cowboys players are dropping back, but there are players who can put their best foot forward against the Cutters.
"I'm running 20 players (against the Cutters) and 20 doesn't go into 17, so there are going to be some boys who miss out."
One player certain to be there in week one is Pride captain Ty Williams.
The former Cowboys winger survived 80 minutes in the centres against the Gurias in his first match back from a serious knee injury.
Demetriou said Williams would be given more game time against the Cutters.
"He'll do at least 60 minutes. Ty's knee held up really well in last week's match, which was fantastic," he said.
"He's a really big player for us, and I'm keen to get him as match fit as I possibly can before round one."
Demetriou still plans to experiment with his line-up tonight, with Ryan Ghiettiand Sam Obstlikely to switch between halfback and dummy-half throughout the game.
The Cutters have been bolstered by the late inclusion of extra Cowboys players.
Centre Kane Linnett has been included to play his first match of the pre-season after overcoming an elbow infection.
Hookers Rory Kostjasyn and Alex Elisala have also slotted into the Cutters squad beside Cowboys teammates Curtis Rona (centre), Sam Hoare (prop) and Tyson Martin (second-row).
Kick-off is at 6pm.
Northern Pride team
1 Hezron Murgha, 2 Wayne Ulugia, 3 Brett Anderson, 4 Ty Williams, 5 Semi Tadulala, 6 Shaun Nona, 7 Ryan Ghietti, 8 Nick Dorante, 9 Sam Obst, 10 Felise Kaufusi, 11 Ethan Lowe, 12 Steve Snitch, 13 Blake Leary. Interchange: 14 Brian Murgha, 15 Kyle Feldt, 16 Aidan Smith, 17 Ben Spina, 18 Alex Starmer, 19 Ricky Thorby, 20 Davin Crampton.
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Spots up for grabs: Northern Pride coach Jason Demetriou will use tonight's trial match against the Cutters to experiment with his line-up.