There’s always a bit of travel for us when it comes to Country Week and this trip will involve an early Friday morning plane out of Brisbane, after staying in the city for the night, and a late Sunday evening return. But the mood in the camp is really upbeat and the trip probably came at a good time for us after a tough five weeks.
And the three players who have dropped back from the Titans – Ash Taylor, Will Matthews and Mitch Rein – are really keen to give us a lift, which is great after losing three players through hamstring injuries from last weekend.
We are staying in Longreach, a town I visited quite a bit in my youth when growing up in Mt Isa, with our game against the Central Queensland Capras being played 20 minutes down the road at Ilfracombe (the hometown of Cowboys and Queensland prop Matt Scott) at 6pm Saturday.
There’s been a bit of publicity around Ash’s return to the field after sitting out the last few weeks but there’s going to be no pressure on him to do anything out of the ordinary.
He has fitted in really well and training with us on Wednesday and we will make his role pretty simple. He’s just glad to be back playing and been great around the boys and has been really positive, and we want to ensure he enjoys being back on the field.
With Ash coming into the side, Lindon McGrady will drop back to fullback and Talor Walters to the wing, with Luke Jurd staying in the halves with Ash.
Mitch Rein had a few games with us early in the season and he’s a great fella who has also keen to lift the team and Will Matthews has shown in his couple of appearances for us just how classy he is at this level.
We’re without Lamar Liolevave, who suffered a head knock and a knock to his shoulder against Burleigh, and Christian Hazard, Bailey Faull and Kalani Going are out with hamstring injuries.
It’s good that we’ve got Kody Parsons back and the Titans guys to fill the holes.
It’s an important game for us and we need to get back to winning. Our performances against the Blackhawks and Wynnum were pretty good even though we lost but we slipped back in our standard against the Bears.
It’s all about getting back to looking to do the little things well rather than looking for the big play; that’s what we have to get back to doing if we want to play – and compete – in the finals.
We haven’t spent too much time looking over last Sunday’s loss at home; it’s about looking forward now and concentrating on our run home.
The Capras may be at the foot of the ladder but they were unlucky against Mackay Cutters last round and playing in unfamiliar surroundings in the bush can be a real leveller in Country Week.
Having been brought up at Mt Isa and Cairns, it’s terrific to be back in the north-west of Queensland where I went around towns like Longreach, Cloncurry, Barcaldine and Blackall playing lots of different sports.