The lack of match-time for Chanse Burgess and Billy Sing is of no concern to Dubbo CYMS coach Shawn Townsend, who has confirmed the pair of forwards will be back for Sunday's grand final.
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CYMS will meet the Mudgee Dragons in the Peter McDonald Premiership's showpiece fixture and Townsend also stated he's made a major change to the way his side is preparing for this year's decider.
The squad has been named with Burgess and Sing both in despite missing the latter stages of the season due to suspension and injury respectively.
Burgess copped a six-week ban after he was hit with a grade two unnecessary contact/heavy contact charge for an incident during a round 11 win over Wellington in July.
"He'll come straight back in," Townsend confirmed.
"He just adds a different mix to what we've got. He can play with the footy a bit, he can go through, he can kick, he can tackle. He'll be straight back in and he'll be handy for us."
The return adds a little extra spice to the grand final given Burgess' brother Casey will line up for the Dragons.
Sing hasn't played since injuring his ankle at Nyngan in the final round of the regular season and while some suspected he wouldn't be back in 2023, the Fishies did consider rushing him back last week for the preliminary final meeting with Parkes.
"He was touch and go," the coach said.
"We rolled the dice and went without him, hoping he'd be 100 per cent right the next week.
"He probably could have played and if it was the grand final last week he would have played."
Burgess started his debut season with CYMS in eye-catching fashion but he hasn't taken to the field since July 16 while Sing hasn't featured during the finals, but Townsend wasted no time in replying when asked if the lack of match fitness was a concern.
"'Burgo' has been telling me he's been doing a heap of running up in the Coolah hills and I've got no dramas with Bill. He's been there and done that so he's pretty good to go," he said.
"We've got depth as well. If they do decide they're running out of steam (on Sunday), we've got depth through the middle."
Cleary brothers Jaymn and Mitch started in the back-row last weekend and both scored tries in the win over Parkes, but they could drop back to the bench should Townsend decide to start both his returning stars, while Louis Murphy and Sully Haycock will drop out of the preliminary final lineup.
CYMS and Mudgee have finished top of the Group 11 and Group 10 pools respectively the past two seasons, but it was Forbes who downed the Fishies in last year's grand final.
The lessons learned in that loss have been clear almost every time Townsend has spoken this season and watching the 2023 Magpies has even led to the Fishies changing the way they approach this year's decider.
Last year it was very much business as usual, but the coach is urging his players to embrace the experience in the lead-up to Sunday.
"Forbes made a really big deal of it last year and we went at it different and wanted to be quiet and nice and calm and relaxed but then they jumped us and they just seemed to have a bit more excitement about it," Townsend said.
"This year we're trying to get a bit more excitement and we're going to get out and about and enjoy it a little bit more.
"If we make it a bit more exciting then hopefully it generates a bit more energy when we start."
Sunday's grand final is scheduled to kick-off at 2.30pm at Apex Oval.
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