Souths trio John Fernance, Luke Witchard and Simon Massey will line-up for the Lions at Newcastle International Hockey Centre on Sunday less than 24 hours after representing NSW in the Australian Country Championships final in Berri.
Fernance, Witchard and Massey are set to meet Queensland in the national decider in South Australia on Saturday afternoon (3pm) before traveling the approximate 1300 kilometres back home that same night to make the round 19 Hunter Coast Premier Hockey League fixture against Wests the following day (12pm).
It comes with another three NSW Country players – Ben Hanlan, Darby Chalmers and goalkeeper Jacob Dearing – returning on a later flight and missing for Souths in the top-four clash.
The Lions’ Andrew Nash is also away at the same tournament, being held north-east of Adelaide, representing the Australian Defence Force and will play-off for bronze against Western Australia earlier on Saturday (11am).
Souths veteran Simon Vimpani remains unavailable after helping the Australian over 35s to claim gold at the Masters World Cup in Spain on Monday.
The Lions trail third-placed Wests, who will wear pink socks this weekend to raise funds for the Hunter Breast Cancer Foundation, by two points on the ladder with three games left in the regular season. Elsewhere on Sunday and Norths host Gosford in a battle for the minor premiership while Maitland visit The Entrance.
University has the bye.
LADDER: Norths 24, Gosford 23, Wests 21, Souths 19, Maitland 15, The Entrance 6, University 0.