Pickers captain-coach Luke Dorn reckons five-eighth Ryan Walsh won’t be the only member of his family playing at Maitland Sportsground on Saturday.
Walsh will wear the No.6 jersey for the ladder-leading hosts but Dorn suspects the playmaker may face off against brother and Western Suburbs recruit Luke in round 14 of the Newcastle Rugby League competition.
“I’ll be surprised if he [Luke Walsh] doesn’t lace up a boot,” Dorn told the Newcastle Herald.
“I think he will play, especially with finals coming up, but we just have to worry about what we’ve got to do and not who we might or might not come up against.”
Wests coach Matt Lantry said Luke Walsh, the recently retired English Super League and NRL halfback who signed with the Rosellas on the eve of the mid-season transfer deadline, was due to arrive in Australia from France “late” on Friday night and wouldn’t play because it wasn’t “worth the risk”.
Players need to notch up a minimum of three games to qualify for semi-finals.
Including this weekend, there are three rounds remaining in the regular season.
Adding to the importance of the fixture, only two points separate the upcoming opponents on the overall standings. Maitland share the lead with 16 with Wests in equal fourth on 14. Seven teams can still make the top five.
“It’s a big day for us,” Dorn said. “If we can manage to get the points, and depending on other results, we can virtually play-off for the minor premiership the next weekend. If we don’t we stay with the pack.”
Dorn said the Pickers were set to field a full strength team outside injured Jarrod Smith (knee).
In the other top-five battle joint frontrunners Lakes are without the services of Knights NSW Cup trio Vitale Roqica, Ben Talty and Chris Randall for Sunday’s meeting with third-placed Central at St John Oval. The Butcher Boys have named Marcel Ikinofo on the wing.
Elsewhere and Cessnock are searching for a third straight victory to keep their finals aspirations alive when they visit Souths at Townson Oval on Sunday while Macquarie are at home to Kurri on Saturday.