The Aquis Titans will field 13 new players in tonight’s trial match against the Parramatta Eels in Alice Springs and coach Neil Henry will understand that combinations may be raw.
However, he is looking for improved discipline and defensive commitment in the first hit out of the season for eight of the squad who join 14 of the line-up of 18 that made the semi-finals of the Auckland Nines.
“This is a good chance for a lot of the boys to get on the paddock after a long pre-season while others will have a bit of confidence from the Auckland Nines,” Henry said.
“We know it is going to be hot so that’s why we have brought two full packs who will interchange during the four quarters, while we’ll switch some of the backs around too.
“It’s a good hit out for us before we reduce the squad for our final trial against the Rabbitohs at Pizzey Park next Saturday.
“We have some exciting players like Brian Kelly and Greg Leleisiuao who get their first experience against NRL opposition in the 13-a-side game after playing in the Nines, and also the first opportunity for some of our experienced forwards to play together.”
Wearing the Titans colours for the first time are David Shillington, Nathan Friend who will captain the side, Zeb Taia, Leivaha Pulu and triallist Cameron Cullen.
William Zillman didn’t travel with the team to Alice Springs due to a calf injury but will definitely be fit for the final trial against the Rabbitohs. This means David Mead will start at fullback and Leleisiuao on the wing.
The squad shows the depth in the pack this season. With Greg Bird and Ryan James in the Indigenous All Stars side, Ryan Simpkins yet to return from his long-term knee injury, and Kierran Moseley sidelined with an ankle injury, Henry still has the liberty of running Luke Douglas, Matt Srama, Eddy Pettybourne and newcomer Leivaha Pulu of the bench.
The game will be played in four quarters with the temperature expected to be around 34 degrees after reaching 39 during the day.
A major feature of the math will be the crackdown on the play the ball, especially not getting upright and touching the ball with the foot by the man in possession.
Aquis Titans: Mead, Leleisiuao, Kelly, Davis, Don, Mortimer, Taylor, Shillington, Friend, Paasi, McQueen, Taia, Burr. Interchange: Srama, Douglas, Pettybourne, Wright, Lynch, Walker, Pulu, Cullen, Li.
Eels squad (alphabetical order): Daniel Alvaro, Mitch Cornish, Isaac De Gois, Kenny Edwards, Bureta Faraimo, Bevan French, Tyrell Fuimaono, Clint Gutherson, Luke Kelly, Cameron King, Tim Mannah, Tepai Moeroa, Ryan Morgan, Cody Nelson, Rory O’Brien, Junior Paulo, Kaysa Pritchard, Brad Takairangi, Kelepi Tanginoa, Peni Terepo, Vai Toutai, Honeti Tuha, Alex Twal, Matt Woods.
Kick-off 7.40pm in NT (8.10pm Qld)