WESTERN Rams go into Saturday’s match against the Federation of Italian Rugby League Australia (FIRLA) side not sure of what to expect but there’s one thing they can count on – a fired up opposing team.
With an Italian side playing for a potential World Cup spot Rams coach Darren Jackson expects his team to be facing a tough, but exciting, battle when the two sides come together at Carrington Park.
“Being a trial match and with them flying out for their World Cup qualifying campaign the next day I think they’ll be giving it everything they can,” he said.
“I think there’s guys pushing for a spot in the Italian team so we’ll be expecting a tough contest and for them to come out at 100 miles an hour.
“I expect they’ll be strong all across the park. There’s Queensland, NSW and Ron Massey Cup players who will be very well drilled. But if we do the little things right then we should do well.
However, it’s not just the Italian side who are playing for spots on Saturday.
I think there’s guys pushing for a spot in the Italian team so we’ll be expecting a tough contest.Darren Jackson
Jackson said his players, especially those new to the team, have an chance to show everyone what they’re capable of.
“Usually the footy season is over by now so it’s good to be able to buy a few extra weeks. We’ve got a few new faces in the team this year, which is really exciting to see,” he said.
“I think from our group around 13 of them are new. We’ve got a few Castlereagh Cup players in there too. For the guys who are on the fringe this is a great chance for them.
“They’re representing the region and it’s not just for one game. I know when I was playing they didn’t just give jerseys out, they had to be earned, and this is a good opportunity for those who want to play more for the Rams in the future that they deserve to be there.”
One of the new faces in the team is Dubbo Macquarie’s Jeremy Smith, who has returned from time away from the Western representative scene to line up at hooker.
As well as Smith, Group 11 will be represented by premiership winner Ben Maguire from Forbes, Narromine prop Luke Thompson, Parkes’ flying fullback Sam Dwyer and Nyngan star Jacob Neill, who will guide the team around from halfback.
Saturday won’t just be about the senior action, with under 16s and 21s Western teams to take on the visiting FIRLA outfits.
Group 10 under 16s will also be playing on the day, starting Saturday’s action from 11.30am.
Kick-off is at 3.50pm.