GRIFFITH Blacks coach Clint Robertson said an off-field battle with the Cootamundra Tricolours will add extra spice to their Southern Inland Rugby first round clash at Country Club Oval tomorrow.
Due to a scheduling conflict the Tricolours asked Griffith if only first grade can be played at an earlier time, with the points to be shared between the two reserve grade sides.
The suggestion has irked Robertson and the rest of the Blacks greatly, and while begrudgingly having agreed to just one game, the dispute regarding the points for reserve grade seems far from over.
While Robertson said the disagreement will give his side extra ammunition he is just as concerned with the team putting in a solid performance for the first round of the year.
“We’ve had good numbers to training over the Easter break and we’ve got a good core group of guys at training all of the time and now other players are coming out of the woodwork now the season is here,” Robertson said.
Asked if those players now coming to training will make combination during the game hard to come by early in the season, the Griffith coach said it was not a new phenomenon.
“As far as the Griffith Blacks go that’s how it’s always going to be, you have guys who are only in town for a year or two come halfway through the season because of work,” he said.
Griffith has been trying to fill gaps in its backline in the countdown to the season, but Robertson said he had no qualms in using players in new positions as he looks to get the correct balance.
“John Tagliapietra has put his hand up to play five-eighth for second grade, so they’ll do whatever they have to do, don’t worry about that,” Robertson joked.
“We do have a couple of young fellas who tell me, ‘I’ve always played flanker through high school’ but then I tell
them that at their size they’ll get themselves killed playing in first or second grade.
“So we have a few guys like that in our backs filling in gaps for maybe half a season.”
Another area of concern for Griffith has been the lack of front-row stocks, but they have been given an 11th hour boost with the arrival of Jason Hubbard.
Hubbard played as part of the First XV at Canberra Grammer last season and brings with him an excellent reputation for a young player.
Griffith has also solved its flyhalf headache, with English import Peter Sleath set to line-up in the number 10 jersey tomorrow against Cootamundra.
“He was playing at the club in England (former Blacks first grader) Darren Kidd was at and they got to know each other so when Peter said he was going to Australia, Kiddy told him to go play for the Blacks,” Robertson said.
“He’s a bit shorter than me, but he’s built like a mallee bull and he’s strong as buggery and he looks very classy at training.”