THE Yenda Blueheelers will be looking to cure their point-scoring blues after signing New Zealand young gun Shannon Rupapere before the side’s clash against the Hay Magpies at Wade Park on Sunday.
Sitting outside of a finals berth, the Blueheelers boast the best defence in the competition, but rank a lowly sixth in points scored with just 142.
But officials have high hopes for Rupapere, who was close to signing with the Auckland Vulcans in the NSW Cup, to fix their misfiring attack.
“We were lucky to get hold of him actually, Sam (Panarello’s) contact in New Zealand rang up in the last week and said this guy wants to come over and try
playing in Australia,” Yenda co-coach Roy Romeo said.
“But he’s had a couple of training sessions with the guys, he looks sharp and like he knows what he’s doing and he’s fit in really well with the boys.”
The 21-year-old, who played for Papakura Sea Eagles before joining the Blueheelers, brings confidence beyond his years, with his skills set to shine against a wounded Magpies side this weekend.
“Hopefully we should get a win this week and he’ll learn a bit more about the group so he can keep improving,” Romeo said of Rupapere’s debut.
“We just need to complete and put pressure on, our defence has been good, we just need to get over the line more often.”
Yenda is still suffering a mini injury crisis, with George Broome out for another two weeks and key five-eighth Chris Richards out indefinitely with his recurring neck injury, with Jason Fuller set to wear the number six on Sunday.
Trent McFadzean (back strain) is in severe doubt, while prop Trevor Richards (groin strain) is set to undergo a fitness test tonight.
Hay will be looking to improve from their dismal showing against the Bidgee Hurricanes last round, which saw them steamrolled to the tune of 68-12.
The Magpies’ lack of size in their forward pack will be a problem again this weekend, but in a boost for the visitors, Pat Miller, who scored four tries in his return from injury in reserve grade last round, will start at halfback.
Yenda will square off against a familiar face in Jamie Woods with the Hay lock set to line up against his side from last year, as the tough veteran looks to add
stability through the middle of the field.