Comets all set for baby broncos

RUGBY LEAGUE: Nat Bowman filled nearly every position for the Central Comets last season but the chance to seize the No.7 jersey starts this weekend.

Bowman was yesterday named halfback for the Comets' opening pre-season trial match against the Brisbane Broncos under-20s at Rockhampton's Browne Park on Saturday night.

The Queensland Cup's best and fairest player in 2008, Bowman ended last season in the No.7 jersey after eye-catching stints at fullback and five-eighth caught the attention of Comets' NRL feeder-club Brisbane.

“It's pretty exciting to be back in the number seven,” Bowman said yesterday.

Bowman teams up with Marc Fickling in the halves while Celtic Crusaders recruits Ian Webster and Aaron Summers will make their Comets debuts at hooker and prop respectively.

Fullback Junior Auru will make his long-awaited return from a shoulder injury which sidelined him for most of 2008 and former teen prodigy James Munns returns to partner Karl Johnson in the centres.

The Comets will field a monster bench, led by big boppers George Tuakura, Liam Anlezark, Andrew Dale, Nathan Barraclough and Alan Rothery.

Young playmaker Matt Minto was the only player not considered due to injury.

Rockhampton products Brent Williams and Jake Granville, Gladstone's Brendon Gibb and Capella's Guy Ford will lead a youthful Broncos Toyota Cup squad, to be coached by Rockhampton's Anthony Griffin, named yesterday.

Bowman warned his team-mates the “Baby Broncos” would ride into town with nothing to lose but was confident the Comets could start their season with a strong performance.

“I'm pretty confident with the team we've got at the moment and the way we've been training the last couple of weeks has been good,” Bowman said.

The Broncos NRL squad play the Gold Coast Titans at Wynnum also on Saturday night, with Comets star Guy Williams yesterday named in the centres for Brisbane.

Dingo product Ben Hunt - last year's Toyota Cup player of the year - will start at halfback while Blackwater's Dave Taylor and former Comets enforcer Aaron Sweeney will also play against the Titans.

• Tickets are still available for Saturday night's match at Browne Park through the Pilbeam Theatre.

The teams

Central Comets: 1 Junior Auru, 2 Casey Lillyman, 3 Karl Johnson, 4 James Munns, 5 Dallas Williams, 6 Marc Fickling, 7 Nat Bowman, 8 David McLellan, 9 Ian Webster, 10 Aaron Summers, 11 Todd Titmus, 12 Gerard Parle, 13 Mick Esdale. Interchange: 14 Patrick Fray, 15 Damien Major, 16 George Tuakura, 17 Liam Anlezark, 18 Daniel Grevsmuhl, 19 Trent Munns, 20 Andrew Dale, 21 Nathan Barraclough, 22 Alan Rothery. Coach: Wayne Barnett.

Brisbane Broncos: 1 Dale Copely, 2 Max Dudley, 3 Joel Koina, 4 Josh Williams, 5 Dane Ga Gai, 6 Corey Norman, 7 Todd Murphy, 8 Tyson Andrews, 9 Jake Granville, 10 Josh Coyle, 11 Brendon Gibb, 12 Ryan Hansen, 13 Guy Ford. Interchange: 14 Tariq Simms, 15 Brent Williams, 16 Rhys Matsen, 17 Dunamis Lui, 18 David Hala, 19 James Ackerman. Coach: Anthony Griffin.

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