THE Macquarie Scorpions are backing their fitness to cope well with the reduced interchange rules that will apply in the coming Newcastle rugby league season.
Last season, teams were permitted four fresh reserves and a total of 10 interchanges across the course of an 80-minute match.
This season, teams will have eight interchanges to manage.
“With only eight interchanges in first grade in 2018 it will be critical that all players are able to play more football this year,” Macquarie coach Adam Bettridge said.
“This should suit us as we pride ourselves on our fitness levels.
“Our head trainer James Dries has ensured we will be ready for the start of the season on April 21, against Lakes United, at Peacock Field.”
The defending premiers will field a new-look squad this year.
Some of the new personnel, and new combinations, were on show when the Scorpions recently travelled to Port Macquarie where they scored a four tries to two win over the Port Macquarie Sharks in very hot and humid conditions.
“It was a very tough day for the players, with the hot and humid conditions making the ball handling difficult, but I could not fault the commitment from all the players in the squad and our defence was very strong,” Bettridge said.
“I was impressed with the speed from new recruit Nick Worthington, from New Zealand, who showed that he will excite our supporters this year. And I thought Todd Hurrell, Kyle Smith and Tyler Prince-Campbell were also very strong for us.”
Bettridge said expectations were again high in Scorpion country.
“I could not be happier with the way in which all the players are putting in at training, and I see no reason why we can’ t have a successful season again in 2018 as all the new players have bought into the club and are training very well,” he said.
“I am also impressed with the younger players in the club who have all improved their fitness levels since returning to training.”
The Scorpions will play their first trial at home this Saturday, March 17, at Lyall Peacock Field against Central Coast club Kincumber.
Games start at midday.
Macquarie’s second home trial will be played the following Saturday, March 24, against the strong Central Coast club, The Entrance.
The Scorpions’ last trial will be against last year’s grand-final opponents Western Suburbs, at Wangi Oval, on Sunday, April 8.
WYONG Roos made a winning start to the Intrust Super Premiership (NSW Cup) season when halfback Paul Momirovski kicked a field-goal in the final minute for a 25-24 win over Newtown at Morry Breen Field on Saturday.
Both teams scored four tries, and when Newtown kicked a penalty goal in the final minutes, it looked like Wyong would have to settle for a draw.
But Momirovski was cool in his execution, slotting the ball through when the Newtown defence was slow to get off their line at the death.