Dressed to the Nines: full-strength Hawks to make an impression in Mudgee
By MATT FINDLAY
ORANGE Hawks may not have signed a permanent coach in place of Wise Kativerata yet but if you ask two blues president Frank Sheehan that won’t stop them being a force at this weekend’s Mudgee Nines, at Glen Willow Sporting Complex.
Hawks remain in talks with potential coaches to fill the void left by Kativerata, who played in the NRL with South Sydney, St George-Illawarra and Parramatta, after he left a fortnight ago to take up a position with the Fiji National Sports Commission.
Since then interim coaches have been charged with looking after Hawks’ preparation for the 2016 Group 10 Rugby League season but even without the stability of a permanent mentor Sheehan is confident his club will give the Mudgee Nines a shake.
This weekend’s tournament, sanctioned by Country Rugby League and boasting $9000 in prize money, is the first of its kind to be held in the bush and Sheehan said Hawks only have one goal leading in - to win.
They’ll have their strongest possible squad gunning for the $5000 winner’s cheque too.
“We will have our full strength squad going over to Mudgee for the Nines,” Sheehan said.
“All of our big signings will be playing, along with the really talented young guys we have at the club.
“While I don’t think a lot of guys will have played much in this format, I think it should suit the way they play their football.”
Young guns Jedd Kennedy and Cody Robbins will line up for the two-blues, while punters will get their first look at the club’s three major signings in former Wynnum-Manly centre Viane Falaniko, former Gold Coast Titans Holden Cup forward Douglas Faaiu and former Sunshine Coast Falcons gun Sam Sotogi.
Hawks will take on the Coonabarabran Unicorns in their competition-opener on Saturday morning and have also been pitted against hosts Mudgee Dragons, Glenmore Park Brumbies and Dubbo Westside (2) in pool one.
Dubbo Westside (1), Bathurst St Pat’s, Moore Park Broncos and Lithgow Workies make up pool two, while Dubbo Macquarie, Bathurst Panthers, The Entrance Tigers and Moree Boars will clash in pool three.
The preliminary stages will kick off on Saturday and finish on Sunday morning, before the finals that afternoon.