RETURNING halfback Luke Sherwood hopes a pep talk from noted author and coach Peter Fenton will lift Wanderers for their crunch Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union game against competition leaders Hamilton at No.1 Sportsground tomorrow.
Fenton addressed the Two Blues after training on Thursday night, focusing on players making the most of every opportunity at training and on the field as Wanderers fight for a play-off position.
The Two Blues were three points clear of Lake Macquarie in fifth place and three behind Maitland and Merewether Carlton before the Greens’ clash with Lake Macquarie last night at Townson Oval.
Sherwood said the talk from Fenton was a timely boost for Wanderers.
‘‘He just spoke about attitude at training and in the game and gave us a good outlook to what we have to do,’’ Sherwood said.
‘‘The main thing he spoke about was that in amateur rugby you only get a small amount of time each week to train, so just to put in for that period and get the most out of it.’’
Another timely boost is the return of Sherwood, who comes in to replace younger brother Nathan Sherwood.
Nathan hurt his ankle last week in the 18-17 loss to Southern Beaches at Cahill Oval and Luke returned to the field from a broken wrist in the final 20 minutes.
He will start tomorrow after having missed five matches.
After the Two Blues’ narrow loss last week, the halfback said they had to lift their intensity for the full match against the Hawks to stay ahead of the Roos.
‘‘Against Maitland we were there and then fell short at the end as well and got a draw,’’ he said.
‘‘We have been putting in some good performances but we’ve just been a bit unlucky in patches.
‘‘We’ve been starting well but at the end of each half we’ve just been lacking some enthusiasm and fitness as well.’’
Hamilton coach Scott Coleman is looking for a lift in intensity after lacklustre performances in recent weeks.
The Hawks drew 17-17 with Lake Macquarie last week and lost to Merewether 35-22 the round before, but remain four points clear at the top of the table.
‘‘We’ve been beaten by or drawn with the better sides the last two weeks,’’ Coleman said. ‘‘The other teams have definitely lifted and we haven’t kept up with them.
‘‘As a team and individually our enthusiasm has to improve.’’
Injuries have also been a factor for Hamilton, who have had heavy involvement in Newcastle and NSW Country sides this season.
Hamilton will have Paul Dan and Ben Harriss back from injury but Coleman said Nick Palmer was unlikely to return tomorrow.
He said Chris Stratton and Lewie Catt would play second grade and might feature in the top grade, but Va Talaileva was at least a week from coming back.
‘‘A lot of the players have had a big year, some of them have been going since January with the Newcastle squad,’’ Coleman said.
‘‘Six went away for that, six or seven weeks with Country. It’s all just mentally and physically draining.’’
● A fired-up Merewether picked up a bonus point in a 38-17 win over Lake Macquarie last night.