Griffith clubs set to shuffle deck for Doug Alpen clash

Group 20 rugby league

THE Waratah Tigers and Black and Whites will likely take second-string sides into Friday night's Doug Alpen Memorial Shield clash at Exies Oval.

Both coaches are weighing up their selection options and face some prickly decisions ahead of the annual Good Friday showdown.

With Easter falling later than usual this year, organisers could have opted to play the game in pre-season but instead decided to carry on with the traditional Good Friday slot - even though the Group 20 season proper started last weekend.

The circumstances far from ideal, especially since the next Griffith derby is scheduled for May 3 at the same venue. 

Black and Whites coach David Milne, who scored two tries on debut in Griffith's 26-22 win over Bidgee on Saturday, told The Area News he will not risk any player who is carrying even a minor injury.

"It's a big thing, but then again, it's in the middle of the season," he said.

"We've really got to look at our options and not risk too much while still trying to win.

"It is a bit of an opportunity to have a closer look at some other blokes but we're into the season now and it's time to get a run on."

Milne has already ruled a line through forward pair Jericho Tanuvasa (ankle) and Peter Wilma, who is still in hospital after somehow tearing his lung against the Hurricanes.

"Considering he didn't break any ribs or anything (it's a strange one)," Milne said.

It's much the same for the Waratahs, who are still on a high after dethroning minor premier Leeton in a 42-14 triumph on Saturday night.

While the 'Tahs came through that win unscathed, captain-coach Kose Lelei is still loathe to expose any of his star players to the possibility of injury in a match that isn't for competition points.

"We're not too bad - a little bit sore," he said.

"The team effort was fantastic and our boys through the middle played a huge part in it. 

"Guys like big Mike (Ioapo), they're just too big and Johnny (Teleaga) killed it again. He was involved in every set."

But Lelei, who still remembers his debut for the club as a 14-year-old running on in the dying stages of an under 16s clash with the Black and Whites, doesn't need to be reminded of the meaning behind the Doug Alpen Memorial Shield.

"It's a big rivalry and this game does matter, but it's during the season, so I'm not worried about it as much," he said.

"Anyone struggling I'll rest for sure - like myself, I might stay on the bench.

"I might give a go to some of the reserves and the under 18s players I want to watch."

One of those players will be new signing Shorne Ngu, who has left Yenda to join brother Viliami at the Waratahs.

While Viliami is - to the best of Lelei's knowledge - suspended from the Doug Alpen clash, the other Ngu is set to start on the wing.

The teenager represented Country NSW last year and is considered one of the best young talents in the group.

"He's going to play a bit of first-grade this year," Lelei said.

The match starts under lights at 6pm with league tag and reserve-grade clashes to begin from 3pm.

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