LAKE Macquarie coach Tim Chidgey has reminded Wanderers players to pack their shoulder pads for what shapes as a rough and tumble clash at Walters Park on Saturday.
The Roos boast one of the biggest packs in the competition.
The return a fortnight ago of powerhouse No.8 Marvin Tauhina adds to a scrum headed by Ken Villiamu, Barcelona Lupematasia and Willie Fraser.
And with wet conditions expected, Chidgey has made no secret of the Roos’ plans.
“I hope they bring their shoulder pads,” Chidgey said. “We have plenty of ball runners and plenty of big fellas there. They are hard to stop when they get some momentum.
“Marvin wasn’t playing when he was in Brisbane and will take another month to get into proper shape. He compliments Kenny, Barca and Peewee (Fraser).
“Hopefully it’s a a heavy track and we can give them a good day at Walters Park.”
Lock Ignacio Battilana and No.8 Ben Ham are the only forwards remaining from the Wanderers side which went down to Hamilton in last year’s grand final.
“We are heavier this year than what we have been,” Wanderers coach Vic Paasi said.
“We play a similar style but with the extra size we have added a couple of dimensions. The Roos are a big side and have some really good ball carriers but we are up for the challenge. We have done a lot of contact work in the last three or so weeks and have worked on our defensive structure.”
Lake Macquarie, after opening the campaign with two wins, have suffered back-to-back losses to The Waratahs (50-20) and Southern Beaches (25-20).
“The second 40 against Waratah was the worse 40 we have played all year,” Chidgey said. “When you go down to 12 men it is pretty hard. Against Beaches, it was there for the taking but we didn’t take our opportunities when they were there. We have to control the ball better. We have been guilty of turning it over on first and second phase. One big run and then lose the ball. We need to starve Wanderers of the ball. They shift it pretty wide and they have some gas out there. Tim Marsh (NSW Country) is away but they have Josh McCormack, Dillon Rowney and Bill Coffey, they all know where the tryline is.”
The match will be Coffey’s return to the top grade after a late start to the campaign.
“These are the games where Billy thrives,” Paasi said. “The bigger the team, the better he plays. He becomes like a ninth forward. We will need that.”
Elsewhere Saturday, Dan Wells returns from a hamstring injury at fullback when University welcome premiers Hamilton to Bernie Curran Oval. Liam Walker, Sam McNeil and Sirili Bainivalu are out for the Hawks.
Waratahs will be chasing a third straight win when they meet Southern Beaches at Ernie Calland Field, Nelson Bay welcome back Dan Collins for the visit by Merewether and Maitland are at home to neighbours Singleton.