Former QLD Reds star and Dubbo boy Beau Robinson will make his long awaited CSU NSW Country Eagles debut on Thursday night, after being named in Darren Coleman’s starting side for the Eagles round six clash against QLD Country in Newcastle.
Fellow Central West product and Brumbies lock Tom Staniforth also returns to the Eagles forward pack, with Andrew Kellaway, Ed Stubbs and Charlie Clifton added to the Eagles backline.
After falling to their second defeat of the season last week against competition leaders Brisbane City, Thursday night’s clash is a must win for the Eagles.
“We head to Perth and Melbourne after this so I’d really like to take some winning form into that roadtrip,” Eagles coach Darren Coleman said.
“We’ve had a bit of a disjointed start to the year due to various things but there are no excuses now.”
Meanwhile, the Queensland Country side that will play the Eagles features a number of changes from the team that faced Perth Spirit in Rockhampton, including the new centre pairing of Lagi Setu and Tyrone Lefau.
Setu, who made his debut for Queensland Country in Rockhampton off the bench, is a former Australian Schoolboy representative with 73 National Rugby League (NRL) caps to his name having played for the St.George Dragons, Brisbane Broncos, Melbourne Storm and the Sydney Roosters.
Lefau, who will make his NRC debut this weekend, has experience playing in New Zealand’s ITM Cup for Counties Manukau under the tutelage of former All Black Tana Umaga, and has also spent time with the Western Force. He will start at outside centre.
Inside of the centres, Bond University pivot Dion Taumata will earn his first start for Queensland Country at flyhalf, with Sam Greene ruled out for Thursday’s clash.
In the front-row, Haydn Hirsimaki and Saia Fainga’a have been ruled out of Thursday’s match due to injury. In their place, tight-head prop Taniela Tupou and hooker Alex Mafi will both earn their starting debuts for Country, with Sef Fa’agase moving to loose-head in place of Hirsimaki.
Phil Potgieter returns from injury to start with Tyrell Barker in the second-row, seeing Sam Reiser move to the reserves. In the back-row, Ed Quirk has been ruled out through injury which will see Maclean Jones promoted to the starting line-up.
In the outside backs, Tom Banks moves from the bench to the starting XV on the wing.
AJ Campbell and Jack Cornelsen have been recalled to the squad in the reserves, while Townsville prop Andrew Parker is in line for his first cap of 2015.
Former Anglican Church Grammar School flyhalf Mack Mason, originally from Mitchell in Queensland’s Western Downs region, has also been named on the bench for his potential NRC and Country debut. Mason has returned to Brisbane and has been training with the Country side for the past few weeks, after representing the Melbourne Storm in the NRL Under-20s competition throughout 2015, playing 22-games for the side.
Country head coach Jason Gilmore said: “We’ve got a few new players coming into the side this week but they’re all excited for the opportunity to test themselves against NSW Country.
“Besides Brisbane City, our rivalry with NSW Country is the only other that predates the NRC and the team are keen to get one over our Southern rivals.
“We’ve got a new look backline with Taumata, Setu and Lefau all earning their first starts but these players have a lot of high level experience and have an understanding of what is expected at this level.
“We’ve also got 2014 Country representative Andrew Parker returning to the squad, which is a big boost for our North Queensland fans.
“The players are aware of the tradition behind the Queensland Country vs NSW Country match. Considering that the Heelers went down to the NSW Country Cockatoos earlier this year, the team are driven to get the result on Thursday night.”
In a massive evening of rugby, Hunter U17’s will play Central Coast U17’s in a Junior Gold Cup match at 4:45pm and the CSU NSW Country Eagles development side will play Newcastle Barbarians at 6pm ahead of the main game at 7:30pm. Tickets are just $15 with kids under 16 free. Fans who can't make it to the game can watch LIVE on FOX SPORTS 2.
CSU Country Eagles team to play QLD Country:
1. Jerome Vaai
2. Tom Sexton
3. David Feao
4. Sam Lousi
5. Tom Staniforth
6. Beau Robinson
7. Mark Baldwin
8. Sam Figg
9. Mitch Short
10. Jono Lance (c)
11. Charlie Clifton
12. David Horwitz
13. Ed Stubbs
14. Jarome Mackenzie
15. Andrew Kellaway
16. Peter Nau
17. Dane Maraki
18. Andrew Collins
19. Nick Palmer
20. Bj Edwards
21. Angus Pulver
22. Will Fay
23. Jack Pennington
Queensland Country team to play CSU Country Eagles:
1. Sef Fa’agase – Reds/University of Queensland/Beaudesert
2. Alex Mafi – Reds/Bond University/Gold Coast
3. Taniela Tupou – Reds/Brothers
4. Tyrell Barker – Easts
5. Phil Potgieter – University of Queensland/Toowoomba
6. Maclean Jones – University of Queensland/St George
7. Conor Mitchell – University of Queensland/Sunshine Coast
8. James Turner – Souths/Cairns
9. James Tuttle – Reds/GPS
10. Dion Taumata – Bond University/Gold Coast
11. Pierce Fitzgerald – Brothers/Townsville
12. Lagi Setu
13. Tyrone Lefau – Wests
14. Tom Banks – Reds/University of Queensland
15. Elliott Hagen – Easts/Sunshine Coast
16. Campbell Wakely – University of Queensland/Gold Coast
17. AJ Campbell – Easts/Gold Coast
18. Andrew Parker – Townsville Brothers/Townsvile
19. Sam Reiser – University of Queensland
20. Jack Cornelsen – University of Queensland/Gold Coast
21. Scott Malolua – Souths
22. Mack Mason – Mitchell
23. Matt Gordon – Easts/ Toowoomba