Central North Rugby: Walcha Rams gear up for grand final against Pirates

INJURY CLOUD: Simon Newton has until the eve of the grand final to declare his fitness.
INJURY CLOUD: Simon Newton has until the eve of the grand final to declare his fitness.

The Walcha Rams are aiming to avenge their one-point 2017 grand final loss to Tamworth Pirates when they face the reigning premiers in this year’s Central North decider on Saturday. 

A question mark remains on the availability of five-eighth Simon Newton and breakaway Thor Crombie with the pair under an injury cloud.

Rams co-coach Barry Hoy said he is giving the duo every chance to be fit for the decider. 

“They are both a bit doubtful but we will see how we go,” he said. 

“We will give them until Friday to make sure they are alright. 

“You have got to be a bit careful what you carry into a grand final injury-wise.”

The Rams toppled the Moree Bulls to qualify for the decider.

The Rams toppled the Moree Bulls to qualify for the decider.

Should the duo not declare themselves fit on Friday, Hoy believes his squad has the depth to cover them. 

“Probably a bit light on backs but forwards we have covered,” he said. 

“We have some pretty handy replacements in backs anyway.”

The Pirates boast plenty of premiership-winning experience and are vying for their third-straight title win but the Rams are hoping to halt their run.

“They are a big, powerful side and experienced footballers,” Hoy said

“They have been playing semi-finals and grand finals for a fair while now and they know all about it.”

Hoy admitted the Walcha side were nervous leading into the 2017 decider but are “more relaxed” this time round. 

“Last year they were a bit nervy about it, first grand final in five years so not a lot of them had played,” he said. 

“We played semi-finals the year before but that was as far as we had been so to play a grand final was another level again and a big day.

“If anything they are probably a bit more relaxed about the day and what goes on.”

Nerves aside, the Rams believe they can de-throne the current champions.

“We are fairly confident, very confident I would say because we have been going pretty well,” Hoy said. 

“[We will] bring back the bloody trophy and we will all be happy. 

“Two points better and we will be happy.”