Group 20 rugby league
THE Group 20 Razorbacks are quietly confident of springing an upset tommorow in the Maurice Kelly Cup clash against Group Nine in Wagga.
The representative squad has trained just twice in the lead-up but coach Rohan Loudon told The Area News he "couldn't be happier" with how the sessions went.
Now it's just about putting his plan into action.
"We're always underdogs against Group Nine," Loudon said.
"They had a big win last year and they're at home so it's going to take a big effort.
"We've trained really well but they're all clever players that don't need much coaching - they just need to know where we're going and off they go.
"But it's like anything - it doesn't matter who you put out there.
"If everyone turns up ready to perform and they do, hopefully we can win."
The Razorbacks have been forced to make just one change to the original squad that was named earlier this month, with Griffith's David Milne succumbing to a hamstring injury.
Kose Lelei has been drafted in to replace him at left centre, and if anything it's a net gain for Group 20, with brother Moahoni and Waratahs teammate Johnny Teleaga likely to start on the same edge.
"He's very sharp on his feet, Kose," Loudon said.
"He was probably disappointed to make the original side - and he was unlucky, so it's good to have him in. He'll certainly go well.
"Him and the other 'Tahs boys looked really good at training together and most blokes in the side know each other, which is a big thing."
Leeton playmaker Clint Halden is carrying a calf injury and will play off the bench, handing Black and Whites star Stephen Broome a spot in the starting 13.
Loudon said on-field talk will be vital if the Razorbacks are to cope with the faster ruck speed that will be set by the Group Nine referees, a challenge that has proved Group 20's undoing in the past.
DPC hooker Richie Bamblett was the most vocal at training and Loudon wants to see more of the same on gameday.
"He surprised me a bit. I know he talks on the field, but even at training he was, and it's good that your No.9 does that," he said.
"That's going to be massive with him in the middle - if he's quiet it's a worry, because he's going to lead the line speed.
"If you have three or four blokes talking then hopefully it feeds off and everyone does it."
Group 20's secret weapon looms as hulking Waratahs prop Michael Ioapo, who will be used off the bench as an impact player.
Loudon described him as a "monster" who will be "massive" for the side.
"He's out of control," he said.
"If we can hold them early and have a beast like him come on and get on the back of him, we'll be in good shape."
The winning coach will take control of the returning Riverina side for the CRL Country Championships later this year, and Loudon said the lure of that famous red jersey has helped restore some of the excitement in representative football.
"It's a huge thing. I'm glad they've brought it back, it got stale before," he said.