Newcastle Rugby: Southern Beaches hope X-factor Caileb Gerrard can provide spark

X-FACTOR: Southern Beaches centre Caileb Gerrard playing for Lake Macquarie last year.

X-FACTOR: Southern Beaches centre Caileb Gerrard playing for Lake Macquarie last year.

COACH Va Talaileva believes Caileb Gerrard could be the X-factor if Southern Beaches are to kick-start their season and push for a finals place.

Gerrard was a “bit rusty” in his return against Maitland from a five-match suspension for a lifting tackle.

“He will be better for the first game,” Talaileva said. “It was great to have him back. He is switched on in defence and attack and is going to be one of our X-factors.”

Beaches are at home to Lake Macquarie on Saturday. Gerrard joined Beaches from the Roos in round three. His suspension was a result of a tackle on Roos breakaway Andre Prinsloo in Beaches’ 47-33 win in round five.

“I had a little chat to him on Tuesday night about this week,” Talaileva said. “He has to keep it cool and just play his own game. Lake Macquarie are hungry for their first win and they always turn up against us.”

Beaches are in sixth spot on 22 points, 15 points behind Maitland, with five games to play.

“It has been disappointing,” Talaileva said. “We have lost a number of close games that we should have won. There is no point worrying about the semis. Our plan is to turn up each week, play some good rugby and finish the season on a positive.” 

* Matt Thomas certainly loves his rugby. A week after resigning from a three-year stint as NSW Country coach, which is a time-consuming position, he was back refereeing the divisional match between Griffins and Easts (2) at Dangar Park.

* Merewether are likely to err on the side of caution and rest fullback Jay Strachan (knee) and prop Wendall Wilhelmus for the visit by Singleton.