Defending premiers Hamilton trained for the inclusion of Wanderers breakaway Ben Ham on Tuesday night.
So it was no real surprise to Hawks coach Scott Coleman that Ham would take his place in Saturday’s Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union grand final at No.2 Sportsground after being cleared at the judiciary midweek.
“To be honest we trained on Tuesday as if he [Ham] was in,” Coleman said. “Full credit to them, I would have contested it [a third yellow card] as well.”
Coleman has his own headaches to deal with despite Hamilton missing only two of 10 deciders since 2007.
“This is by far the hardest one with selections,” Coleman said.
“Normally we have our team well and truly selected by now, but this year we are still trying to finalise our first XV and bench.”
Outside centre Bryce Madden trained with the squad on Thursday night and was confident of playing after returning from Canberra where his partner is due to give birth to their first child.
Hawks winger Sireli Bainivalu (broken finger) was hopeful of passing a fitness test and making his way into the 23-man squad.