Williams names extended squad for ISC opener
RUGBY LEAGUE: Former Melbourne recruit Tony Tumusa has stormed into contention for a Round 1 starting spot with the Rockhampton Leagues Club Capras.
The talented young back signed with the Capras two weeks ago and is right in the mix to line up against the PNG Hunters on March 4 after impressing in a trial again the Mackay Magpies last weekend.
Tumusa, who was the understudy to champion fullback Billy Slater at the Storm for a year, was yesterday named in the Capras' 21-man squad, which will be scaled back to 18 mid-next week.
Coach Kim Williams said he named the extended squad to cover all bases after a handful of players suffered injuries in the weekend trial against the Mackay Cutters.
Those on the injured list are Matt Groat (quad), Vic Halfpenny (ankle), Oliver Percy (shoulder), Liam Pickersgill (knee) and co-captain Gavin Hiscox (shoulder).
Williams said the only one of the 21 squad members who could get a start in this weekend's Schwarz Excavation Nines was Marco de la Pena, who is coming off a long-term knee injury and was yet to complete a full hit-out.
"The others I am pretty much wrapping in cotton wool and if these four or five guys don't come through and their injuries aren't right by next Tuesday then I need to know I've got the back-up there in place,” he said.
"It leaves a reduced amount of players going back to their clubs for this weekend but we obviously need to put the Capras first so we're just erring on the side of caution there more than anything.”
Williams said that nine other Capras' squad members - Billy Gilbert, Dylan Webber, Lance Kuveu, John Filipo, Justin Daniels, Mark Johnstone, Nathan Bassani and Liam Law - would play with their respective clubs this weekend.
"It's an opportunity for them to shine this weekend and push for selection beyond Round 1,” he said.
"I hope they go out there and be the dominant players in that competition and prove why they're in the Capras squad.”
Williams said the emergence of Tumusa had created a welcome selection headache at a time when he thought he had a number of positions "locked away”.
"We didn't have any real intention of signing any more players but when a guy who's straight out of the top 25 in an NRL club falls in your lap you don't let them go,” Williams said.
"He's mainly been training at fullback and a little bit at wing. At training he's been ultra-impressive at fullback, his talk and directing our defence is probably the best in the squad.
"He adds a whole new dimension, particularly to our defence. He's also a very damaging player on the wing and is a great finisher.
"He's put himself right in the mix. It certainly wasn't the intention to give him a go so early but my job's to pick our best 17 players and he's right up there at the moment.”
Backs: Jack Madden, Reece Baker, Justin Tavae, Ken Tofilau, Tony Tumusa, Chanel Seigafo, Brandon Manase, Sam Smith, Junior Kirisome, Maipele Morseu
Forwards: Guy Williams, Gavin Hiscox, Matt Graot, Oliver Percy, Krys Freeman, Marco de la Pena, Bill Cullen, Vic Halfpenny, Ayden Cooper, Phil Nati, Liam Pickersgill