Wests wounded rested for Roos

WESTERN Suburbs will not risk key players Matt Thurston and Matt Kennedy tomorrow after they failed to finish training on Thursday night.

The Rosellas host Wyong in a heavyweight Newcastle Rugby League match at Harker Oval tomorrow.

Captain Thurston pulled up lame with a quad injury and Kennedy is struggling with a hip flexor complaint.

Todd Hurrell (biting) and winger Ryan Pywell (fighting) are serving suspensions.

Wests coach Craig Miller decided to rest Thurston and Kennedy with their longevity in mind.

‘‘They’re carrying injuries and it’s just starting to hamper what they can and can’t do, and we’re going into a hard three weeks of Wyong, Cessnock and Kurri and the risk of further injury at this stage is not worth it,’’ Miller said.

‘‘If it was a semi-final or grand final, it would be the old saying, they would be right to play, but the race against time isn’t helping them.’’

Miller is hopeful the pair will be fit for Friday night’s blockbuster against the Goannas at Cessnock.

‘‘It’s not underestimating Wyong, but there’s no point carrying passengers into this game either,’’ he said.

Former Manly and Melbourne prop Jack Afamasaga will shift off the bench for his starting debut with Wests and James Woolford will don the No.9 jersey.

Wyong are also licking their wounds. Centres Chad Sharp (corked quad) and Jayson MacKenzie (thumb), lock Aaron Wallace (hamstring) and utility Shaun Sullivan (back) are unavailable.

After a shock 24-6 loss at home to South Newcastle in round one, Wyong beat Lakes United 42-16 and last week challenged the Goannas in their 34-18 loss at Cessnock Sportsground.

The loss of NSW Country players Mitch Williams and Josh Mantellato to the Knights NSW Cup side was always going to leave a big hole in the Roos.

But Wyong coach Paul Stringer said there were growing signs his team had covered those departures.

‘‘We are a confident side, we go out there to win every single game,’’ Stringer said.

‘‘We’re lacking some troops, but when those troops come back I’m going to have some headaches.

‘‘I think we turned the corner a week before and played well against one of the best sides, so I’m not panicking or losing sleep at the moment.’’

Stringer said he planned to rush a newly signed prop onto his bench for the trip to New Lambton. He wanted to keep the player’s identity a secret until kick-off.

‘‘I’m going to march him out off the bench on Sunday, but I won’t give you his name as I’ll let him just roll out there.’’

It is understood the player is Reg Saunders, who played for Canberra Raiders NSW Cup feeder club Mounties this season, but he is yet to be officially cleared by the Newcastle Rugby League.

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