Newcastle rugby: Ale passes fitness test in boost for Hamilton

CERTAIN: Chris Ale is set to return from a broken arm for the Hawks in the grand final against Maitland on Saturday. Picture: Stewart Hazell
CERTAIN: Chris Ale is set to return from a broken arm for the Hawks in the grand final against Maitland on Saturday. Picture: Stewart Hazell

HAMILTON coach Scott Coleman has no doubts that Chris Ale would get through 80 minutes in a grand final despite the hooker having not played a competitive game since breaking his arm two months ago.

Ale got through a contact session, which included a game against Hamilton’s second grade side, last Saturday.

He will definitely play against Maitland in the decider but Coleman is yet to decide whether he will come off the bench or start.

Giant breakaway Seva Rokobaro is also back after missing the major semi-final win to represent Fiji at the Classic World Cup in Noumea.

“I’m still working out whether we start Chris, move Steve Lamont to breakaway and bring Seva Rokobaro off the bench,” Coleman said. “The other option is to leave Steve at hooker and bring Seva in on the side. From what I saw on Saturday, Chris would have no trouble getting through 80 minutes. While sidelined, he did a hard fitness block. He terrorised our second grade. He had a protective brace and pad on the arm and was fine. He got cleaned towards the end of the session and damaged his medial ligament but he will definitely play.”

Lamont, a former NSW Country hooker, has covered for Ale since he broke the arm in the 29-15 win over Nelson Bay in round 13.

“We are fortunate on that front, but Chris adds another dimension to our scrum,” Coleman said. “He is the best scrummager in the competition. He is so strong and has benefited from having two years in Sydney.”

Rokobaro played three games at the tournament for players aged over 35.

He also played in the internal hit on Saturday before playing off the bench in Hawks’ 46-8 win over Wanderers in the third grade preliminary final.

“I wanted to have a look at the impact Seva had off the bench,” Coleman said. “He had three good runs, attracting 10 defenders to pull him down each time and then we scored next phase. It was third grade. I’ll have another look at it at training on Tuesday and make a call.”

Coleman is also yet to finalise the backline.

The Hawks will take their fight to have Sam Morgan’s third yellow card expunged to the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union appeals committee on Tuesday night.

There is also doubt over the availability of Fiso Vasegote. The winger was found not guilty after being cited for a high tackle on Merewether fullback Jay Strachan in the Hawks’ 36-28 win in the major semi-final.

However, the Greens have taken the matter to the appeals committee and it will also be heard Tuesday night.

If Morgan’s suspension remains, Kirisome Laulala will switch to outside centre and Sireli Bainivalu will come on to the wing. Bainivalu has represented NSW Country and played in the past three successful premierships.

Maitland captain Chris Logan copped a knock to the ankle in the 26-24 win over Merewether in the preliminary final but is certain to play in the grand final.