MACQUARIE’S undefeated start to the Newcastle Rugby League season has failed to convince coach Noel Dent that they are premiership contenders ... yet.
Tomorrow the Scorpions travel to Cahill Oval to face a winless and desperate Lakes United.
Macquarie easily defeated Port Stephens and Central Newcastle in the first two rounds, and last weekend they came from 16-0 down to beat South Newcastle 24-22.
Their round-three match against Maitland was postponed after a sprinkler burst at the Pickers’ home ground.
But Dent is still not prepared to say that the Scorpions have turned the corner.
‘‘As a group we won’t know, until we’ve copped a couple of beltings,’’ Dent said. ‘‘That’s when it’ll tell, and that’s when I knew at Maitland that we would come good.
‘‘The last few weeks have been handy, but that’s not our real test. There’s no false dawns with me. I know what we’re up against over the next five weeks.’’
Dent was the man who built the Pickers from scratch in 2009 into premiers a year later, and the majority of that roster are still together and aiming for a hat-trick of titles.
Dent said there were signs at the Toronto-based club that they could replicate Maitland, but the first step was rebuilding the culture.
‘‘The culture above all else is more important than the results for us this year,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s getting blokes who want to hang in and work hard.
‘‘A lot of the local blokes have been happy to turn up and play first grade, and that’s the stuff we’ve got to get rid of. We’ve got to try and be competitive in our attitude.’’
The Seagulls will be eagerly awaiting an email from the French Rugby League overnight clearing Nathan Ross to return to the club.
Ross has been cleared by Toulouse, and if the paperwork comes through from the French governing body, he will start at fullback.
Former NRL prop Adam Woolnough will also return for Lakes, after he missed the 30-12 loss to Kurri Kurri last Saturday with Achilles tendonitis.
The Bulldogs scored tries only minutes from half-time and full-time, which blew out the final scoreline.
Woolnough said there were signs Lakes might be about to finally click.
‘‘Every week that comes by is a missed opportunity in regards to the end of the season stuff, but we can’t be thinking about that until we get a result this weekend,’’ Woolnough said.
‘‘It’s important to win as soon as possible, but it’s definitely important to be playing well, and that was a step in the right direction last week. It is getting close to a must-win game this weekend.’’
Five-eighth Jackson Nicolau is still missing due to a pectoral injury, but the forwards will be boosted by the return of Cruise Wilson (bereavement leave) and Dane Cordner (suspension).
The Scorpions’ Fijian prop Simonie Sawanie withdrew on Thursday due to family issues and Luke Young, younger brother of Central old bull Mick Young, will start.
Second-rower Simon Allen has been named on the bench for the Knights NSW Cup side’s clash with Newtown today, and, depending on his workload, may play for Macquarie.