Six fresh Capras ready to stalk the Hunters
RUGBY LEAGUE: After a 12th place finish last year was deemed unacceptable, CQ Capras coach Kim Williams knew change was needed.
Now with the eve of the season opener six fresh faces make up the starting 13. Williams has changed the guard.
In October he admitted he needed to strengthen the side's depth and quality. Now in March, he is of firm belief that both boxes are ticked.
Half Matt Minto is gone, so to Samson Graham. Flyer Jake Ainsworth is trying his luck on the Sunny Coast and regulars Ian Webster, Josh Mitchell and Adam Henry have moved on.
The troops have been enforced, across the park.
While his biggest conundrum was the centres and halves: Williams threw a spanner in the works.
"Tony Tumusa has forced his way into the starting side at fullback after being ultra-impressive in the trials,” Williams said.
"We have options with Maipele off the bench. His speed and agility against tired defence will be good.
"Sam Smith is another who has been excellent in the trials and I am expecting a big year from him. He is so hard to handle and our quickest over 100m. He runs a hole as good as anyone in the competition.”
Williams has always maintained that size matters and backed it up.
Former winger Marco de la Pena has been handed the first crack in the backrow next to regular Guy Williams.
"Marco is a long term servant of the club and has been excellent whenever he has been fit,” he said.
"After two knee reconstructions he has worked as hard as anyone to get back on the paddock. He is a really strong defender and gives us a lot on that edge.”
- Tony Tumusa*
- Ken Tofilau*
- Justin Tavae
- Sam Smith
- Junior Kirisome
- Reece Baker
- Jack Madden*
- Matt Groat*
- Krys Freeman*
- Oliver Percy
- Guy Williams
- Marco de la Pena
- Gavin Hiscox
- Maipele Morseu
- Vic Halfpenny
- Jack Kavanagh
- Bill Cullen
Sometimes, a side is picked from a force of hand. Williams had to dish out some tough love this week.
"Aleki Falepaini missed training last week for personal reasons and at this time of year it hurts the team - so I couldn't consider him,” he said.
"He is in my top 17 no doubt but he knows the consequences. He needs to re-earn his spot and show me his hunger.
"It was a really tough decision to pick the best 17. There are a handful of guys who can feel very unlucky not to make it.
"They know where they stand and should not be discouraged. They could very well be there Round 2.
Centre Brandon Manase narrowly missed out to Smith while back rowers Phil Nati and Ayden Cooper are biting at the heels for the bench places.
The Capras and PNG Hunters do battle at Browne Park at 6pm. All locals are hoping the home side can repeat their stunning upset.