Newcastle Hunter Rugby Union: Maitland Blacks back new centre Junior Poloai

Maitland coach Mick Hickling has wasted no time in getting new recruit Junior Poloai into the starting XV for Saturday’s second round clash with two-time Newcastle Hunter Rugby Union defending premiers Hamilton at Passmore Oval.

Hickling said Poloai, formally with The Waratahs, lobbed up at training just before the season kicked off and after making an impact from the bench first up has been elevated to partner Jye Estatheo in the Blacks’ centres.

CHANGE: Maitland's Jye Estatheo will have a new centre partner when he tackles Hamilton on Saturday. Picture: Marina Neil

CHANGE: Maitland's Jye Estatheo will have a new centre partner when he tackles Hamilton on Saturday. Picture: Marina Neil

“He [Poloai] just turned up at training on the Tuesday before the first comp game,” Hickling said. 

“I’m pretty sure he lives locally and I’m not sure if Sap [fellow Waratahs recruit Sapati Peniata] said something, but we’re glad to have him.

“The first week we’d already named our sides but he came on after [winger] Rob [Williamson] rolled his ankle and we got him straight in for this game.

“He’s a good player and adds a little something for us out in the backs, especially without Josh McCormack [Wanderers] this year.” 

Chris Logan slides back to fullback for Maitland and Max Stafford drops to reserves. The Hawks are without second-rower Joe Akkersdyk, who injured his clavicle before the Easter break.  

Elsewhere in round two encounters, Nelson Bay will be keen to make full advantage of their first home game in 2017 when they host Southern Beaches. 

The Waratahs welcome back No.8 Jono Reynolds (work commitments) while for opponents Merewether Carlton Jaden Hethrington replaces Sam Fogarty (unavailable) at inside centre.

Lake Macquarie are away to University and Singleton travel to meet Wanderers.

* theherald.com.au for BarTV Sports livestream of Hamilton v Maitland at 3pm on Saturday

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