NRC: Top v bottom in Toowoomba's Country clash

by Marty Cambridge

It’s the battle between two sides that have had complete opposite seasons as Queensland Country clash with the NSW Country Eagles in Toowoomba on Saturday afternoon.

 The Queensland team are still in search of their first win of 2016 after going down in the 87th minute last weekend to the Rams.

The Eagles on the other hand are yet to experience a loss and sit clear at the top of the Buildcorp NRC ladder.

Clive Berghofer Stadium are set for a treat with All Blacks legend Brad Thorn set to make his run on debut.

The 41-year-old made his return to the playing arena last weekend in a 25-minute cameo off the bench but has been called into the first XV after a hamstring injury forced Phil Potgeiter out.

Queensland Country winger Liam Jurd will have plenty of support from the Toowoomba crowd.  Photo: Brendan Hertel“The addition of Brad (Thorn) to the run-on side will add a lot of experience to the squad,” coach Toutai Kefu said.

“It will be a great chance for many of our young players to learn from him directly on field, an experience that is invaluable.”

The match is also a homecoming for Australian Under-20s player Liam Jurd who grew up and went to school in Toowoomba.

“Jurd has been working towards this game after making his debut against the Sydney Rays in Round 3, Kefu said.

“He can’t wait for the chance to play in front of his family and friends at home in Toowoomba.”

The Country Eagles have made a number of changes as they look to build different combinations and rest some players before the finals.

Impressive forwards Sam Figg and Rowan Perry return to the starting side while Mitch Short has been given an opportunity to start for the first time in 2016 in place of last week’s hat-trick hero Jake Gordon.

Coach Darren Coleman has switched Reece Robinson to fullback, giving Sydney Uni speedster Christian Kagiassis an opportunity on the wing, while Andrew Deegan will return to the number 10 jersey.

Rowan Perry has been one of the stand-outs in the 2016 season of the Buildcorp NRC. Photo: Getty Images

Queensland Country

Starting 1-15: Ben Daley, Alex Casey, Taniela Tupou, Izack Rodda, Brad Thorn, Ted Postal, Maclean Jones, Angus Scott-Young, James Tuttle, Mack Mason, Liam McNamara, Duncan Paia’aua, Tyrone Lefau, Liam Jurd, Tom Banks.

Reserves: Feleti Kaitu’u, Richie Asiata, Sef Fa’agase, Tyrell Barker, Liam Wright, Scott Malolua, Mitch Third, Matthew Gordon.

NSW Country Eagles

Starting 1-15: Sonny Satuala, Clarrie Moore, Paddy Ryan (c), Ned Hanigan, Ryan McCauley, Sam Figg, Rowan Perry, Mark Baldwin, Mitch Short, Andrew Deegan, Christian Kagiassis, Kyle Godwin, David Horwitz, Charlie Clifton, Reece Robinson.

Reserves: Luke Holmes, Jed Gillespie, Cameron Betham, Rohan O’Regan, Tom Cusack, Sam Ward, Tayler Adams, Tom Hill.