NSW prospects’ will battle for Capras spot this weekend
RUGBY LEAGUE: It’s lining up to be one of the most important games of the Central Queensland Capras’ 2020 preseason trials campaign.
After coming up against Fiji, the Brisbane Broncos and Papua New Guinea, coach David Faiumu will lead his near-confirmed 2020 squad into battle with the Mackay Cutters this Saturday.
There was a bounty of takeaways from last weekend’s 30-point loss to the PNG Hunters in Port Moresby, all of which Faiumu would like to put a lid on this weekend.
Set completion woes, a lack of defensive pressure and discipline plagued the new-look side against what has otherwise been a polished pre-season.
“We didn’t execute the way we wanted to. Our pressure just wasn’t up to QCup standard,” Faiumu said.
The coach said there were only “one or two” positions to nut out before he could take the 2020 player roster to the printers.
New South Wales recruits Joel Holdsworth and Jack Gibbons caught the keen eye of Faiumu in the season break and the pair were lined up to fill the holes in the squad.
The coach said he expected Gibbons to play in the centre as an outside back or back rower, while Holdsworth would be playing off the bench at the 20-25 minute mark on Saturday.
However, their recruitment has been far from ideal.
In a cruel twist of fate, the NSW prospects were both struck down by injury upon their move to the Sunshine State.
While the rest of the squad worked through what has been called the hardest Capras’ pre-season to date, Holdsworth was sidelined by a lingering broken leg and Gibbons had been plagued by knee bruising and surgery complications.
“I brought them here for a reason and that was to show their talent, skill and also work hard,” Faiumu said.
“I’ve seen some tape of him (Holdsworth), spoken to his old coach - he’s an exciting young prospect for us,” he said.
He especially commended the pair’s good enthusiasm and high energy they brought to training.
Despite his optimism, the coach made it clear he wouldn’t be extending an olive branch.
“They’re still fighting for their position and a spot in this team – there’s no guarantee that they’ll be starting round one,” Faiumu said.
“I’ve seen enough, I think, of the guys that aren’t playing this weekend and the guys that are playing really need to stamp their mark on this game.”
As for the Capras’ opposition, Faiumu perhaps knows their inner workings better than any having been coached by Cutters Coach Mick Crawley, when he played for the North Queensland Cowboys in the mid to late 2000s.
However, much of what the Cutters will be bringing to Browne Park remains a mystery.
“I know he’ll be prepared, and he’ll prepare his players well,” he said.
“He was a great coach who I learnt a fair bit off in my playing days.
“I don’t know too much about their roster because they have cowboys coming back here and there.”
As a pathway partner of the NRL, The Capras are expecting at least five players with NQ Cowboys experience to take the field for Mackay.
The game plan will involve basic, simple, footy with aims to improve set completions against a side known for its big forwards.
“If we can advance down the field, we know we can score tries - no cheap possessions,” Faiumu said.
Ahead of his first game, Gibbons said nerves were already starting to set in, but he was eager for his shot at a QCup guernsey after a far from ideal pre-season.
“To know that my position is still available for Round 1, that gives me plenty of hope for this week,” he said.
“It’ll be the highest level of footy I’ve ever played so I’ll have to get right into it, get some early touches and play as hard as I can.”
“That’s the sort of stuff you want to test yourself against – if you’re not going to be able to handle it against them, you’ll never be able to handle QCup,” Gibbons said, describing his excitement to play against NQ Cowboys squad members.
Kick off is at 7pm at Browne Park.